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Zetty encourages Gateway staff to focus on technology and innovation

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:46 p.m.
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Nina Zetty poses for a photo on her first day as superintendent of the Gateway School District. Zetty, who comes to Gateway from the Peters Township School District, started her tenure at Gateway on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. Lillian Dedomenic | For The Times Express

Gateway officials hope to keep students ahead of the curve with up-to-date technology.

Superintendent Nina Zetty and district technology manager Dennis Houlihan are discussing a plan that would update equipment in three to five years.

Zetty said her goal is to find the most effective ways to engage students. To do that, Gateway officials are seeing how other districts are working with technology.

“Dr. Zetty has really encouraged us to ... see what's being done with technology and innovation,” said Nancy Hines, director of curriculum at Gateway, who along with district principals and librarians recently toured high schools in Montour and Elizabeth Forward.

“We were very impressed with the student-friendly media centers which have been created in both schools,” Hines said.

In 2007, Gateway used a $407,573 state Department of Education grant to buy laptops, interactive boards and digital cameras for classrooms.

That helped to catapult Gateway's technological resources ahead of other school districts, such as Peters Township, which ranked 11th academically in the state last year, Zetty said.

The interactive boards at the high school enable teachers to easily track student progress and give pop quizzes that automatically tally results.

Homework assignments are online, which makes it difficult for students to give excuses about why they didn't complete an assignment.

Because technology has advanced in the six years since that grant, some of the district's equipment can't be used with new software, Zetty said.

“The (laptops) may be able to be used in other areas of the district, where the software is not as demanding as the high school,” Zetty said.

At the elementary level, there is the potential for easier upgrades, such as clip-on microphones for first-grade teachers.

Enhanced sound would make it easier for students to hear the beginning and ending pronunciations of words they learn to read, Zetty said.

Because technology can be wasted if staff isn't trained to get the most out of it, the district should ensure professional development for teachers who would use it, Zetty said.

Gateway spokeswoman Cara Zanella said parents like the idea of moving forward technologically.

Some parents are “expressing the need for updated and increased technology in all of our schools,” Zanella said.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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