Dear NAIS:

It is the time of year again when you solicit nominations for the NAIS Board, and it is very generous of you to do so.  There are many fine educators and school supporters on the NAIS board now, but I believe there is something missing from the mix.  As a fairly close observer of our terrific independent school association over the past several years, I have been increasingly awed by the growing role of our ed tech directors as a enormously valuable NAIS brain trust.

Our ed tech directors are not just expert in, and informing us about, educational technology; increasingly as you listen to them and see what they are doing, you recognize that these folks are leading the way in thinking about and guiding us fellow independent school educators

  • in how learning is changing,
  • in shaping schools and the classrooms of the future,
  • in effective professional development for our faculties,
  • in communication and collaboration among independent school educators,
  • and in the nature and process of change in schools.

These folks are excellent educators and great promoters of our independent schools; as members of the board, they can and will greatly and positively influence the agenda that is set and the advances that we make for our association.

I have a list of about a dozen suggestions below, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.   I am not lobbying for any particular candidate– these folks are all great– but I do want to implore our association to add an educational (or academic) technology director to the board.

Howard LevinHoward Levin is Director of Academic Technology at Urban School (CA), and a main contributor to that school’s excellent Center for Innovative Teaching.   He is a guru, I think,  about the intersection of technology and teaching, and is very thoughtful and articulate (and widely published) on how our students can and should use laptops for organizing, publishing, communicating and collaborating online.

bigenhocChris Bigenho, at Greenhill School, has been an architect of the NAIS schools of the future program at the Annual Conference, and provided a terrific service at last year’s annual conference as the mastermind of the shared blog and twitter feed for NAIS attendees.   He consults widely and blogs brilliantly; he is a sharp thinker about cognitive development and draws upon that knowledge to inform and shape our understanding  about technology and learning in a very impressive way.

Liz Davis is Director Academic Tech at Belmont Hill School  (and let’s just say it is cool to have a woman running ed. tech at an all-boys school!).   Liz writes brilliantly for her blog, the Power of Educational Technology, and she has over 4000 followers on Twitter, whichI think is the highest number I have seen for anyone inside of NAIS.   I saw Liz at EdubloggerCon East, which she organized and oversaw, and I was struck as she said something that I know more and more Ed. Tech people are thinking: “I wish my title didn’t seem to limit my role to technology, because the more I think and act and lead in Academic Technology, the more I am really leading in academics broadly.”

Jason Ramsden

Jason Ramsden is CTO at Ravenscroft (NC), and has been a prolific presenter (and live-blogger) at NAIS.   He has thought hard about using technology for school communications, and has been a key organizer for professional development and innovation activities in the NC association of independent schools.

Demetri Orlando is now Tech Director at BB&N (MA), and is the architect and mastermind of the incredibly valuable ise-net, the independent school educators ning.  For this accomplishment alone, and for the way in which it puts Demetri at the center of the conversation among independent school educators nationally, Demetri is well suited for an NAIS board seat.  Demetri also blogged very interestingly about the 2010 NAIS AC.   Like so many others on this list, his thinking and intellectual leadership is anything but limited to technology: he has written about professional development, the qualities of a graduate from our school, and 21st century teaching and learning.

arvind s grover

arvind grover is director of Ed. Tech at the Hewitt School, (NY); blogs at 21 apples: learning in the 21st century;  and I know him best for his work hosting (and running) a podcast with two others (below) called Ed Tech Talk: 21st century learning.   In that project particularly Arvind is helping to guide and influence the conversation broadly about how our schools need to meet the needs of the fast changing world we live in.

Vinnie Vrotny

Vinnie Vrotny is Director of Academic Technology at North Shore Country Day (IL), and blogs at Multi-Faceted Refractions.  He has been a terrific presenter at the Laptop Institute, and holds a Google Teacher Academy certificate.    He is part of the trio, with Arvind above and Alex below, who run the Ed Tech Talk: 21st century learning.

Alex Ragone

Alex Ragone is Director of Technology at the Collegiate School (NY), and is also a part of EdTechTalk: 21st century learning.  He blogs thoughtfully at

Fred Bartels is IT Director at Rye Country Day (NY), and writes frequently on the ISED List-serve.   He is also the founder of a Ning, Iscoop: A Community of Independent School Teachers Exploring Online and Blended Learning.   Fred is a provocative gadfly, and more than happy to challenge the status quo; he writes with a passion and fierceness not often seen in our oh-so-civil association; his membership on the NAIS board would certainly stir up those meetings!

Kerri Richardson

Kerry  Richardson is Director of Academic Tech at Brooklyn Friends.   She has been a stimulating tweeter at NAIS annual conferences, including the POCC conference, and she is a great thinker about teaching and learning in our schools:

Richard Kassissieh

Richard Kassissieh is Director of Information Technology at Catlin Gabel School (OR).  He blogs about technology and learning quite acutely at KassBlog.

Page Lennig is Tech Director at Waynflete School (ME), and blogs valuably at the TechKnow Blog.

Matt Scully

Matt Scully is Ed. Tech Director at Providence Day School (NC), and blogs at Engage the Learner.

Sarah Hanawald

Sarah Hanawald, I am afraid, doesn’t quite make my list right now, but it is illustrative to recognize why she doesn’t.  Previously an ed. tech director at Greensboro Day School (NC), (and were she still, she’d certainly be on this list), and still a terrific contributor to ise-net,  she is now the new Academic Director at Cannon School (NC).  This is something I predict will begin happening with greater frequency: our Ed. Tech directors will increasingly become our Academic Directors, and then our next generation of Heads.

I am sure I left some folks off, to whom I apologize; readers, please use the comment box to add additional suggestions.



William Stites

William Stites is Tech Director at Montclair Kimberly Academy (NJ), and “blogger-in-chief” at edsocialmedia; he has been a presenter at the NAIS conferences over the years, winning the Leading Edge Award for Technology in 2004 for MKA’s online faculty development program.

elizabeth helfant

Elizabeth Helfant runs Instructional Tech at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MO).  She has her own wiki devoted to professional development and a blog on Digital Learning Environments.

Dolores Gende

Dolores Gende is Instructional Tech. Director at Parish Day School (TX).  She blogs at Journey in Technology.

The NAIS board at present is composed primarily of school-heads, but there are a few who are not heads.   If we want our association to be governed by those who are most informed and thoughtful about the future of our schools, and most effective at communicating and networking with and throughout our association membership, we should add an educational technology director to the board!

Jonathan Martin (not an educational technology director!).