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Always Learning starts accumulating 'quick wins'

Edison HS Student Tech Repair LabThe first day students returned from spring break, a box full of 31 broken Chromebooks from a comprehensive middle school showed up to the Practicum of Information Technology class at Edison High School. The 25 senior students got to work, knowing that it was critical to make sure that all the students in the feeder pattern had working technology for testing season.


With the support of instructor Humberto Salazar and members of the district Information Technology team, the students ran diagnostics, replaced screens, keyboards, and bezels when needed. 


“We go out and work side by side with them, showing them how you diagnose, how to replace a screen, or a keyboard,” Aaron Alonzo, executive director of Information Technology said. “They do all our QC  [Quality Control] checks that we do internally before we give them back to a campus.”


Systematically, the students cleaned the Chromebooks, checked microphones, cameras, trackpads and installed new screen protectors. 


By the end of the class, they had 20 repaired, parts requested for five, and reported back on the ones that could not be repaired. The student team not only had the satisfaction of meaningful hands-on learning, they also can use the experience to help pass their Comp TIA certification exams next month: IT Fundamentals and A+.


The Edison team will soon be joined by others. Funds from Methodist Healthcare Ministries to the SAISD Foundation are helping Information Technology set up student tech teams at Burbank, Sam Houston, CAST Tech and Brackenridge High Schools, to improve the high school students’ career readiness, help reduce repair times, and to ensure the district's one-to-one device-to-student ratio.


It’s a well-thought-out program, and one that was created purposefully in the district’s Always Learning strategic management plan.


The implementation of student tech teams at a minimum of three campuses is just one of the 363 district activities supporting 62 objectives of the 12 components that comprise the overall plan, which was presented to the board of trustees in February.


The approval came after a months-long engagement and revision process. After the initial draft, a coaching team of 55 district employees made 570 specific line edits, resulting in a second draft of the plan.


That second draft was reviewed by campus and department staff, and 4,837 surveys were received from employees, giving feedback about specific objectives and activities. 


More than 1,200 parents attended campus-based feedback sessions, and an additional 250 attended the Gathering of Community Voices Feb. 8. More than 400 people filled out community surveys giving feedback on the plan during this phase. 


Finally, at a Community Summit Feb. 10, more than 100 people — San Antonio ISD staff and students, along with representatives from local, state, and national nonprofits, governmental agencies, and education systems — gathered to evaluate the plan through four different lenses: an equity stance, valuing our staff, “doability,” and transparency.


From this meeting, the need to celebrate “quick wins” was noted.


“We talked about having short-term wins,” Dr. Rose Engelbrecht, principal of Hot Wells Middle School, reported on behalf of her group at the Summit. “One of the parents in our group shared she is a second-grade parent and wants to know what will be done for her second-grade student this year, not two years from now.”


The feedback from that summit, along with the comments from staff and community, resulted in a thoroughly revised third draft, which was prepared for the board Feb. 13 and presented Feb. 27.


In the implementation of the plan, a key priority is celebrating the wins — those activities listed in the plan, like the student device repair teams — as they come to reality.


The next step in implementation will be the creation of a Children’s Cabinet, a diverse group of local leaders and national experts, which will serve as an external advisory board to the district throughout the implementation. 


“The Children’s Cabinet is going to hold us accountable to the promises we made in the plan and help us advocate for resources and support to make the plan possible,” Chief Strategy Officer John Norman said.


Other priorities include highlighting connections between Always Learning and Board Goals and Guardrails, aligning district budgets and securing additional resources to fund key initiatives in Always Learning, and developing public-facing dashboards to monitor progress.


“We have built incredible momentum,” Superintendent Jaime Aquino said. “We want to continue that momentum.”


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