Anne Arundel Elementary School principal named state's technology leader

February 13, 2011|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Nantucket Elementary School Principal Diana Strohecker remembers working to inspire Anne Arundel County students 34 years ago, using multicolored chalk instead of traditional white or yellow, while teaching first grade.

Nowadays, she is known for a tech-savvy approach to learning that would impress even the customer service representatives at Best Buy: from SMART Boards in every instructional area, to voice recorders for book reviews, webcams for projects with students worldwide, and devices that offer 24-hour surveillance monitoring of the school from her home and desktop.

It's not surprising that Strohecker, who helped design the Crofton school before it opened three years ago, was named the state's 2011 Outstanding Technology Leader in Education, making her eligible for the national honor as well. The award, given annually by the Maryland Society for Educational Technology, comes with $1,000 worth of technology equipment for the school, which Strohecker said she hopes to use toward getting teachers electronic book readers for the school's new E-Book Club, which is slated to start up next month.

Strohecker has helped to make Nantucket Elementary one of the area's most technologically advanced.

"In 2006, I did a Fulbright [Exchange Fellowship] in the United Kingdom, and I traveled to schools for two months and saw schools that already had interactive whiteboard technology there," said Strohecker, who then was principal at Millersville Elementary School. "I learned about it and brought it back here and outfitted my then-elementary school with interactive whiteboards in every classroom.

"When I was selected to help design and build [Nantucket Elementary], it was much easier because I didn't have to work with old electric [technology] and I made the entire building wireless. Building it from the ground up was so much easier … you can build in the construction phases all the support systems you need to handle the amount of technology."

Strohecker, 54, began her career in the Anne Arundel system teaching first grade at Central Elementary School in Edgewater. She is the second consecutive Nantucket Elementary staff member to receive an MSET honor. Music teacher Julie Olsen received the Outstanding Educator Using Technology Award last year.

Said Strohecker, "I'm really happy about the award because if you do any kind of Internet search a lot of the more cutting-edge, razzle-dazzle technology stories are about high school kids creating their own plays and videotaping. This really focuses on the importance and the urgency of doing it at a younger age when kids are very naturally immersed into it in a real comfortable way."

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