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Building a 'Vision' for a Brighter Future

"Vision 2020," a Southington Board of Education initiative, will bring the community together in an effort to continue enhancing effort in preparing local students for life beyond school.

Technological changes have drastically changed the educational needs of today’s students, but the and School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. are undergoing a new initiative to create a long-term plan for the future.

The board and Erardi will soon partner with parents, students and other community members to form an exploratory committee that will look into enhancing technology education and better preparing students for life beyond school as part of the new “Vision 2020” initiative.

“It’s a concept that came from my office with the full support of the Board of Education,” Erardi said. “It’s an idea that comes from all of the change in what’s happening with teaching, learning and technology. It made sense to sit collectively with all entities to develop a plan.”

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The “Vision 2020” program will begin in July or August, Erardi said, with a focus on sitting everyone down to develop a long-range plan that will serve to implement new technology and lessons into teaching in an efficient and cost effective manner. The effort will help provide a plan through the year 2020, Erardi said.

The part of the initiative that has captured the attention of the public, however, is the Bring Your Own Technology Advisory Committee, which will explore ways to implement the technology students already own into everyday lesson plans.

As part of the advisory’s charge, they will determine if it would be effective to allow students to bring the technology they already have such as smart phones, iPads and laptops to school in order to enhance learning.

Southington Board of Education member Terry Lombardi said she is in full support of the plan because changing times and a struggling economy have made it difficult for schools to keep up with the fast-paced advancements in technology.

“We are behind and I’m not talking about Southington here,” Lombardi said. “All schools, almost every one in the state, are behind when it comes to integrating technology. This is an initiative that will put us on the forefront and could become an example for schools across the state.”

An important aspect of the initiative comes in having the students involved, school board members said, and one early participant said he looks forward to helping the district get on track.

Julian Cardozo, a freshman at , said he enjoys being a local student but feels the district definitely needs to work to enhance technology. A former student at the Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Science Magnet School, he said when he returned to Southington, he was surprised at how far behind the school was.

“There is definitely a lot more that could be offered to students,” Cardozo said. “(The district) is committed to improving in the area of technology and I can see how the district could get ahead.”

Brian Goralski said the district will face challenges in implementing a plan using “Bring Your Own” style and students would need to be committed to sharing, but the committee will be able to help sort out those details.

He said it is just one component of a larger plan, however, and the “Vision 2020” program will also allow the board to create a cost effective way to continually upgrade technology in all schools.

“Despite the economy, our job and our responsibility as a board and a community is to continue to make education better,” Goralski said. “By having this workgroup with all invested members of the community involved, we get bigger and better ideas. That’s the ultimate goal.”

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