Technology is power.
Just ask Jennifer L. Jones, Title I technology teacher at Bryant Woods Elementary School in Columbia.
Jones, who was recently named MICCA Outstanding Technology-Using Educator, said she uses her position to help pupils comprehend the myriad uses of technology in their lives.
"I support technology in many different facets," she said. "I use it in kindergarten through fifth grade with students. I use it as a tool doing research and to educate teachers. I also use it online to navigate the Internet."
Jones will be honored April 28 during the MICCA annual technology conference in Baltimore, and Bryant Woods -- a Title I school based on the number of pupils who receive free- and reduced lunches -- will receive technology equipment valued at $1,500 as part of the award.
In addition to other prizes, Jones has been nominated for the International Society for Technology-Using Educator in America award.
MICCA, which uses the acronym as its official name, stands for Maryland Instructional Computers Coordinators Association. The organization promotes technology in education throughout Maryland.
Jones recently learned that she had been chosen for the award after Principal Jason McCoy surprised her with an announcement over the school public address system.
"He called me to the office and made the announcement. I got a little teary-eyed," she recalled after receiving the good news.
McCoy said Jones deserved the award.
"She's making learning fun," said McCoy, adding that pupils are being taught how to use Excel and PowerPoint, popular software programs.
He added, "She has helped the staff ... by posting different Web sites for them and helping them with new technology."
Diane Rymer, chairwoman of the MICCA awards committee, said Jones "was an excellent candidate for the award.
"In her full-time position as a Title I teacher with a focus on technology integration, Ms. Jones was able to demonstrate strengths in both student and faculty instruction that effectively integrates technology. In addition, she is actively promoting technology in her school, community and through presentations at both local and state-wide conferences."
Jones, who grew up in Anne Arundel County, said "technology has always been around her."
She started teaching in the Howard County public school system in 1997, after earning bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the Johns Hopkins University, respectively
In 2003, Jones started working at Bryant Woods.
Among her accomplishments in the technology field: using the Dreamweaver software to create a pupil mathematics activity resource tool for first-graders; a compilation of Web sites for pupils and parents; creating Excel spreadsheets for teachers to collect student reading data; and conducting school-based workshops on the new countywide e-mail.
Bryant Woods' technology resources include wireless computers, TVs, digital cameras and computer response remotes, Jones said.
She said she aims to use technology as a "tool" to help pupils in their daily lessons.
For instance, she explained that teachers are using PowerPoint third-presentations to help third-graders and fifth-graders.
"I also like using technology to be creative," she added.
One way she does that is by overseeing a student-run TV broadcast that airs weekly throughout the school, which has televisions in each of its 17 classrooms.
"I'm working with a group of fifth-graders, and they're learning note-taking skills. They do all the scripts, and the [program] airs on Friday mornings," she said.
Although technology can be fun and exciting, Jones said, she makes sure her pupils understand the importance of safety when surfing the Internet and copyright issues when downloading information from Web sites.
"We learn to search in a safe environment and read articles about downloading music," she said. "We tell them that we don't give out our names and addresses."
Eliza Van Overschelde, a third-grader at Bryant Woods, said she has enjoyed learning about technology.
"I think [Jones] is really kind," said Eliza. "She teaches us how to work on computers, and she has a Web site that we use."
Eliza's mother said Jones has an "energy" that attracts students to her teaching techniques.
"She shows an equal appreciation for all students," said Tambra Nelson.
Jones said she wants her pupils to understand the influence of technology in the world.
"It is power, and it's going to help them learn about [things outside their environment]," she said.