By RANDY TATANO
Special to Atmore News
Every teacher has a desk.
But in Escambia County, they have two.
When technology crashes in a classroom, a teacher needs help immediately. In the past, they’d have to fill out a request and wait for help to arrive. Now there’s a dedicated phone number to get immediate assistance from the school system’s technology department. And teachers won’t be talking to someone in a foreign country or have to wait on hold forever.
It’s the brainchild of new Assistant Superintendent Michele Collier. As a former teacher, she knew the issues faced when technology isn’t working properly. So she got together with Technology Coordinator Jamie Burkett to create a system that provides immediate help. When a teacher has a problem, Burkett and his team are immediately available to answer the phone call. They can talk the teacher through the problem, access a computer remotely, or go directly to the classroom.
Collier is coming home to Brewton after working in the Mobile school system for many years. She attended Pollard-McCall and W.S. Neal, and is excited to return to her roots.
“That’s been the most exciting part, to get to come back to provide opportunities to the system. To be able to give back to the community is a wonderful thing,” she said.
Collier’s new role will encompass teaching, learning and professional development. And she’ll be using a system called “Schoology” which keeps parents in the loop on a regular basis about the progress of their children.
“It will be more transparent to parents. They can see what the kids are learning, what they’re working on, what they might not have done well on. Parents will get an email every Friday that will review a student’s performance, let them know what’s coming up, what has been turned in on time. It gives a glimpse into the classroom we’ve never had as parents.”
Collier worked with Superintendent Michele McClung when they were both teachers at the same school. She’ll be working on four key areas: culture and climate, which encompasses morale, a safe environment, and positive relationships; students and learning; professional development; and resources “to make sure teachers and students have what they need.”
Superintendent McClung said Collier brings a great deal to the table. “She’s a perfectionist, focused on efficiency, customer service and growing the profession of professionals.”
Brewton resident Randy Tatano is a veteran TV news reporter and network producer, and is currently a novelist and freelance writer for the Escambia County School System.