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South Hills

West Jefferson Hills district hires new technology director at $100K salary

| Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

West Jefferson Hills School District's new director of technology is starting at an important time.

District leaders are beginning to make decisions about classroom and student technology for the new $95 million Thomas Jefferson High School; and all fifth and eighth graders in the district soon will be equipped with Chromebooks as the district rolls out a one-to-one initiative.

Board members at their Oct. 24 meeting in a 7-0 vote approved the hiring of Gerry Dawson for a three-year term at an annual salary of $100,000. His start date has yet to be determined. Board members Kerri Gonot and Lori Danen were absent.

“First and foremost, we wanted somebody who had experience with construction, who knew the technological side of the position,” Superintendent Michael Ghilani said. “If your equipment doesn't work — it's not reliable — you can't even get technology off the ground.”

District leaders also were looking for a person who would work well with staff, “someone who is going to try and build relationships with people and gain the trust of our staff,” Ghilani said.

“I want someone who the teachers see all of the time, they know who he is, he's in their classrooms, and they see him as a resource and a help,” Ghilani said.

Dawson comes to West Jefferson Hills from the Frazier School District in Fayette County, where he has worked as technology director for 14 years. Nearly 40 people applied for the job after West Jefferson Hills conducted a statewide search to fill the open position after longtime director of technology Suhail Baloch retired in September.

The new Thomas Jefferson High School, set to open in the summer of 2018, will have “state of the art technology,” Ghilani said, with wireless access inside and out of the building.

“We're at a juncture now with our construction project. We've installed the infrastructure, but now we're looking at the classroom technology and student technology. He's coming in at a very important time,” Ghilani said.

Dawson also has experience with one-to-one initiatives. During his interview process, he told district leaders about several apps and programs that will help enhance Chromebook usage in the classroom.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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