Discovery teacher to become technology educator (7/16/09)

July 16, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A longtime Williston teacher will switch roles this year and become the school district’s new technology educator.

Former Discovery House teacher Bonnie Birdsall was chosen from a wide field of candidates to replace former technology educator Charles Wilson, according to District Principal Walter Nardelli. Wilson worked for the district for 37 years, first as a teacher, and then as the school’s first technology educator.

Birdsall has taught in Williston for 15 years, most recently as a first and second grade teacher at Allen Brook School. In her new position, Birdsall will provide assistance to teachers and staff, helping them make better use of today’s newest technology in the classroom.

“There’s so much out there for our children that’s beyond the walls of our schools and that’s where we need to go,” Birdsall said.

Birdsall said she was originally on the hiring committee for the technology educator position. As interviews commenced, many on the committee suggested Birdsall be the one applying for the job, she said. Initially, she wasn’t sure it was the right time to switch positions, but coworkers convinced her to take the leap.

Her extensive background in technology helped Birdsall attain the position, Nardelli said. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a degree in elementary education, Birdsall also received a master’s degree in technology education from Harvard Graduate School.

After graduate school, Birdsall went to work for the education department at BBN Technologies in Massachusetts. At BBN, she worked closely with public schools in Worcester, Mass. to develop technology within that district. Birdsall said her work in Worcester was similar to what she’ll be doing as Williston’s technology educator.

As a teacher, Birdsall actively integrated technology into her teaching. Two years ago, she was instrumental in getting a grant for multimedia recording and broadcasting software for the school system. Last year, she developed a classroom blog and helped the Discovery team connect with an English-language school in Chile, which let Williston students speak with Chilean students in real time.

Birdsall said she’ll pick up where Wilson left off in keeping Williston one of the most technologically advanced schools in the state, if not the country.

“When I’m attending conferences, I keep getting reminded how far ahead Williston is in technology,” Birdsall said.

While she’s excited about her career move, she said she’ll miss working with students on a day-to-day basis, as well as her with her fellow Discovery House teachers.

“The time was right for me to take this step,” Birdsall said. “I feel like it’s a natural direction for me.”