Melissa Dodd named Outstanding CTO of the Year
April 4, 2017 (San Francisco) - San Francisco Unified School District’s Chief Technology Officer Melissa Dodd has been named “Outstanding CTO of the Year” by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). Dodd accepted the award at the organization’s annual conference today.
Managing rapid technical changes and growing demand
When Dodd joined SFUSD in April 2015, she was charged with revamping, expanding and executing the district’s three-year Digital District Plan. The plan aims to provide every student in every school with equitable access to 21st-century learning environments.
At that time, as with many public school districts, SFUSD had created pockets of technological innovation that were often disconnected, implemented inconsistently or competing for teachers’ time and attention.
Within five months under Dodd’s direction, nearly 10,000 employees and 57,000 students had shifted to a unified platform. By migrating to a platform encompassing communication, collaboration, productivity, instructional, and learning tools, students now have access to ‘everywhere learning’ from any device.
Laptops for Educators, Google Apps for Education
Providing teachers access to consistent technology has also been a high-impact initiative. Under Dodd’s leadership, SFUSD’s Department of Technology (DoT) successfully rolled out the Laptops for Educators program, which provided 4,600 SFUSD educators with a laptop. The portable devices mean teachers can access online attendance, email and digital instructional resources in the classroom as well as in their offices.
Dodd also oversaw the district’s migration to Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Prior to GAFE, the majority of district professional development was led in person by teachers on special assignment in district offices. With GAFE, SFUSD is moving toward professional development online with self-paced tutorials, videos and webinars. This allows for in-person workshops to continue but provides differentiated opportunities for educators and staff to engage in learning.
“I’m honored to receive this award on behalf of SFUSD,” said Dodd. “It shows the collaborative effort around technology that’s been underway over the last two years. We’re moving with laser focus to transform into a digital district by strengthening our foundation, implementing high-leverage initiatives, and building technology coherence across the district.”
“Melissa’s work here at SFUSD has been absolutely aligned with our Vision 2025 goals for every student and all our schools,” said Interim Superintendent Myong Leigh. “We are thrilled she is being recognized for it.”
Access and equity
Dodd’s team also has focused on managing the diversity of digital learning tools that schools use for students. In collaboration with SFUSD’s Curriculum & Instruction, DoT is building a “digital backpack” to provide secure, streamlined access to district-approved tools and online resources.
Dodd also oversaw partnering with Digital Promise and the Verizon Foundation to create an innovative, 24/7, anytime-anywhere learning environment at three of the district’s middle schools through the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Program. With its goal to close the digital learning gap, this partnership established the first program for take-home, one-to-one devices for SFUSD students.
Prior to joining SFUSD, Ms. Dodd worked in the Boston Public Schools for more than eleven years, serving as Chief of Staff and Chief Information Officer. Ms. Dodd sat on the Massachusetts Board of Education Digital Learning Advisory Council and plays an active role with the Council of Great City Schools, most notably in the development of IT Key Performance Indicators now used by the largest 66 school districts in the country.
The CoSN Withrow CTO Award is given to a district CTO who best represents the model set forward by Frank Withrow, a pioneer and champion of the uses of technology in K-12 education. It is also known as the "Outstanding CTO of the Year" award.