The call to serve children is clarion, resonating through time and across countless divides. Transcending culture and community, geography and space, we who teach feel our hearts swell and sing with the vibrations of that call, even when things are hard… and I daresay especially when they are.
Teaching in 2018 is not easy. Working in a field that lives at the state of the art, intersecting pedagogy and technology, is a profound challenge, but nearly each one of you that I’ve met - thousands now, in this sixth year of my service on the VSTE Board - shares the ethical mandate that we must use our skills and talents to teach, to make the world better for children, and to serve. It has been humbling to be a part of this extended network that is in so many ways an extended family, and to know that even on the hard days, we are not alone.
September is a hard time of year for we educational technologists. From people wondering what we did all summer despite spending weeks in back rooms with stacks of iPads to the inevitable bombardment of those who seek assistance with that which we’ve assisted them a dozen times, it is precisely because we dwell at the nexus of critical practices that we are so important to our school communities. Our students and teachers rely on our expertise as well as our compassion. The grace with which so many of you labor to ensure that everything is as right as it can be, is as ready as it must be, is a source of great inspiration for me and for my fellow VSTE leaders.
Inevitably, programs will expand, new tools will continue to arrive, and we will continue to have to expand our skill sets and knowledge bases, network with those in ever-more-diverse fields and related services… and we will inhale, and exhale, and strive for grace and empathy for those who rely upon our unique blend of futurist and practitioner, of superhero and grunt.
In the evolving landscape of the internet of things, with artificial intelligence and virtual environments steadily on the rise, and exponentially-increasing breadth and density of information available to children and adults around the world, our jobs get harder and harder, year after year. It takes special passion, work ethic, professionalism, and knowledge - and admittedly maybe just a little bit of cray-cray - to be an educational technology leader in 2018. I know that I do it because I am absolutely convinced that the ITRT role in Virginia represents the most bang for any buck anywhere in the Commonwealth, and many of the wonderful classroom teachers that have strong ed tech backgrounds bring those same skills to bear even if they are not in the ITRT role itself.
We meaningful integrators of technology into learning wear more hats than most, and so many of us fluidly move between roles as needs arise: teacher, mentor, coach, assistant, administrator, technician, principal, analyst, graphic designer, communications expert, media consultant, pedagogue, curriculum designer… We know few people understand that there is no single-sentence answer to the question “what does an ed tech person do?”
There’s no much we don’t do in the service of education in Virginia. I am proud of us, and I am proud of you.
I appreciate you, and your work, and hope you will remember in this unique (and admittedly tiring) season that we do what we do for all the right reasons, and even if you don’t get the smile or thanks that you deserve, you have it nonetheless: You have it from me, if no one else has said so today.
Serving as your Chairperson for for the past three years has been one of the great privileges of my professional life, and I’m humbled that you’ve chosen me to be your voice for advocacy in Virginia so many times. This will be my final year as your Chairperson as I conclude my second and final term of office on the Board of Directors in 2019. As I look back over the past six years, I am struck by the profound number of wonderful people I’ve met, and how much stronger my network is now than it was when I began. I count myself fortunate to represent you, and to have helped shape this most recent chapter of our organization, strengthening our finances and our infrastructure, fostering powerful collaboration and our national-class conference… What will the next years hold for you, and for VSTE? I hope those two destinies are intertwined, and that you will continue to lend your voice and your talents to your students, your colleagues, and to this organization we so love.
Welcome back to school, my friends. VSTE stands ready to support you all year, and I pledge my full efforts in the months to come, for one more phenomenal year.
With affection and in service,
Keith David Reeves, M.Ed., CETL
Virginia Society for Technology in Education