Leader of the Year: Lisa Gonzales

5/30/2014 7:00:00 PM

Superintendent, Portola Valley (CA) School District

Even though Lisa Gonzales has only been superintendent of Portola Valley (CA ) School District since August 2013, she’s already had an enormous impact on this high-performing, K-8 district of 650 students. She introduced social media to promote school programs and staff, developed a district app to improve home-school communication, and models the use of technology by creating her own eblasts on everything from board meeting highlights to STEM program updates. Gonzales’ biweekly eblasts are read by more than 80% of the school community.

A tech-savvy administrator, Gonzales was pleased to expand on the district’s BYOD effort that had started with a couple of pilot tests in the spring of 2013. “While we were putting policies in place, some of our 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade students started doing it on their own,” she says. “But even though we’re in the middle of Silicon Valley, we didn’t have as many students [as we expected] jumping on the opportunity. Many wanted to use the devices we have at school.” For now, BYOD is rolling along as the district works on its brand new technology plan.

A lifelong learner, Gonzales obtained her Leading Edge Certification for Administrators (www.leadingedgecertification.org/training.html) last summer and then immediately cross-trained to become a trainer of trainers. She led a cadre of school leaders in the Silicon Valley and a second cohort in Arkansas. “I’m online every other night, grading work, giving feedback, and being the cheerleader that they need,” says Gonzales.

Before becoming a superintendent, Gonzales was the STEAM Director at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. She serves on the California Ed Tech Task Force (appointed by the California Superintendent of Public Instruction), the Technology Leadership Group for the Association of California School Administrators, and TICAL (the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership). In these roles, she presents at 10 conferences a year, focusing annually on training thousands of school leaders to use social media to promote school initiatives and garner support for public education. Last year, she trained more than 2,700 administrators in California on technology integration for instruction and communication.

Currently, Gonzales and her team are working on setting up a flipped professional development model for training teachers in professional learning communities (PLCs). “We’re trying to maximize people’s time. The ‘sit-and-git’ approach is not the best way to grow, so we’re trying to tap into resources like Marzano’s PLC work that’s available on YouTube. Technology lets us become more effective and efficient.”

She plans to set more expectations next year as the tech plan is finalized, but for now, Gonzales is thrilled to bask in the “pockets of brilliance” she sees in her teachers, such as the kindergarten teacher using QR codes to share student writing or the 4th-grade teacher offering true 24/7/365 learning via Google Drive for students with the highest level of special needs. “I’m surrounded by tremendous people in my district and state who have made technology their passion. I hope I can be seen as someone who can help others continue the discussions and learning and see what will best meet the needs of California’s public school students.”

Tools She Uses

• Accelerated Reader
• Achieve 3000
• BlackBoard Connect
• Brain Pop
• Constant Contact
• Discovery Streaming
• Evernote
• Exit Tickets
• Glogster
• Gmail
• Google Docs
• iLife
• iPads
• iPod Touches
• Khan Academy
• Lego Mindstorm Robotics
• LiveBinders
• Macbooks
• Newsela
• Promethean Boards
• QR Reader
• Scholastic
• Teacher Dashboard
• Twitter
• YouTube

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