Tech Geeks’ Meeting

Tech Geeks’ Meeting

Educational Technology Council

Tina Hacky, the Media Technology Specialist at Citrus Springs Elementary School shared about the Ozobot, a robot for teaching students to program.

Tina Hackey, the Media Technology Specialist at Citrus Springs Elementary School shared about the Ozobot, a robot for teaching students to program.

On Thursday, I attended our quarterly school district’s Educational Technology Council meeting, which brings together school base technology specialist and technicians. This is always an important opportunity for these team members to come together.  These technology experts are on the front lines of our curriculum, digital assessments, technology initiatives and state mandates.

In today’s classrooms nearly every aspect of teaching and learning uses technology. From the overhead projectors, cameras, to the teacher’s computer, to the student’s iPads, to the many many different software and apps. Our technology specialist and technicians play a critical and essential role in making everything work and helping developers curriculum solutions for the classroom.

These are such dedicated individuals that are having to manage a massive growing and challenging necessary infrastructure. They are often having to use creative means to stay ahead of issues. While they cannot continue to do so, these individuals have had to manage massive increases in hardware and have done these implementations with their existing resources saving the district thousands of dollars and making learning more engaging and relevant.

Director of Instructional Technology, Dr. Mike Geddes shared about our district's growing network bandwidth requirements.

Director of Instructional Technology, Dr. Mike Geddes shared about our district’s growing network bandwidth requirements.

Director of Instructional Technology, Dr. Mike Geddes shared about our district’s growing network bandwidth requirements. Network bandwidth needs of our schools and district have increased from 100MB in 2011 to 2000MB in 2017 and we are headed to 5000MB within just a short time. What is driving this? Textbook adoption is required to be digital, along with our supplemental, enrichment and intervention curriculums is increasing bandwidth usage. The current cost of this bandwidth is approximately $40,000 a month, but thankfully 80% of that cost is paid for not out of our school’s general fund but through rebates through E-Rate. E-Rate is the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission.

At the meeting ‘techs’ have the opportunity to share their knowledge, tricks and tools with one another. District Technology Specialist, Matt Biggs shared about a learning and programming tool/toy called “Sphero SPRK+” which students can program the “Sphero” ball to move as the students’ learn coding to program the ball’s paths. Tina Hackey, the Media Technology Specialist at Citrus Springs Elementary School shared about another exciting robot for students to program, the Ozobot. We are seeing these tools in our schools in MakerSpace areas. Rachel Drummond, the Technology Specialist from Inverness Middle School shared about Google Translate to communicate with now English speaking students. Google Translate app allows you to have your mobile device camera in real-time look at text on a sign or paper and translate it as they are looking at it. This tool is assisting students to learn while they are learning their new language, and it is helping teachers and students to better communicate and build relationships.

This is always an informative meeting and I walk away grateful that my own children are in a school district that have these dedicated and technology committed individuals. They are bettering students to have the knowledge and experience to be more successful in their individual future college and careers.



IMG_1910-COLLAGE(1)Visited Lecanto Primary School today.  What exciting learning that was going on. Got to spend some time in Ms. Paprzycki STEM/Marker Space lab for “Marker Space-Monday”, learned about “beats” in Mrs. Messenger music class, and dropped in on Ms. Willoughby’s class playing Kahoot!.

IMG_1911-COLLAGE(1)It was spring cleaning time at Lecanto Primary School today as Head Custodian Terri Sterling worked hard racking out the fall leaves and making the grounds look amazing.

The school is “PANTHER STRONG”!

Chronicle Editorial Board Give Thumbs Up to Educational Pathways Bill

Chronicle Editorial Board Give Thumbs Up to Educational Pathways Bill

Chronicle say Rep. Ralph Massullo’s “House Bill 407 is a common sense initiative”

39249-8I wanted to thank you the Citrus Chronicle for their support of Rep. Massullo’s educational bills and for their editorial in Thursday’s paper, ‘Massullo bill seeks necessary balance’.

The Editorial Board stated, “The bill’s multiple pathways importantly recognize a student’s performance and potential should not be simply defined by a single standardized test score, but by his or her individual educational aspirations, abilities and mastery.”  The Editorial Board went on to say, “Rep. Massullo’s interest in listening to the concerns of local educators about the state’s reliance on standardized tests for the awarding of a high school diploma and his willingness to challenge conventional thinking with the filing of HB 407 are applauded.”

I wanted to update that Rep. Massullo got Senator Debbie Mayfield to file identical companion bills for HB 6015 (SB 782) High School Graduation Requirements’ and HB 591 (SB 808) ‘Maximum Class Size’.  In addition, Rep. Jason Fischer agreed to co-sponsor HB591.  Rep. Massullo is working with Sen. Montford and other Senators on his major educational pathways bill, HB 407 ‘Alternative High School Graduation Requirements’ and I have confidence he will be successful with that bill as well.

Follow this link to read the entire Chronicle Editorial:

County High School Student College & Career Fair

County High School Student College & Career Fair

16300424_10154795966801259_1165242343048782482_o 16402842_10154795966231259_8394208565184387367_o 16487053_10154795964881259_2860872228016245919_oLast week high school students from around the county came to Lecanto High School to the annual ‘County High School Student College & Career Fair’.

This outstanding event happens ​with the collaboration of Citrus County Education Foundation, Junior Achievement and LHS Administrator Shawyn Newman.

This event is an outstanding opportunity for both s16463025_10154795968791259_1422297965344134023_otudents, business and post-secondary schools to connect.  Business, and schools setup booths and bring their staff to talk to students about college and career opportunities.

Many of our Citrus county high school students already have career and technical certifications. Each school year Citrus county high school students take industry courses and certification exams and received approximately 500 certifications each school year.  This helps students in their post high school careers and provides students with opportunities to go directly into the workforce or help them pay for their post-secondary education.

Plans are underway for next year’s County High School Student College & Career Fair 2018.  Cannot wait to see how this great event continues to grow!

Here is a list of just some of the industry certifications our students receive:

  • Certified Nursing Assistant -State of Florida
  • Biotechnician Assistant Credentialed (BACE) – University of Florida
  • Agricultural Technician – Florida Farm Bureau
  • ServSafe – National Restaurant Assocaiation
  • ProStart National Certificate of Achievement (COA) – National Restaurant Assocaiation
  • App-Mechanical Drafting – American Design Drafting Association
  • Prof-Mechanical Drafting – American Design Drafting Association
  • App-Architectural Drafting – American Design Drafting Association
  • Prof-Architectural Drafting – American Design Drafting Association
  • Adobe Dreamweaver – Adobe
  • Adobe PhotoShop – Adobe
  • MS Office Specialist – Microsoft
  • MS Office Master – Microsoft
  • Quick Books – Intuit

Common sense high school education bills filed in Legislature

Common sense high school education bills filed in Legislature

Originally published in the Citrus County Chronicle on 02/05/2017

[updated with Senate bills on 3/22/2017]

FloridastatehouseFor years educators and parents have been searching and praying for a legislator that would listen to the needs of students, parents and educators, and then be brave enough to file legislation that would make positive lasting improvements for our students.  Citrus seems to have found this legislative unicorn with Representative Ralph Massullo, MD who is Citrus County’s Florida House of Representative, District 43.

39168-37Even before Rep. Massullo was elected, he reached out to those in public education.  It seemed clear from my first meeting with Rep. Massullo that his motivation was simple; he wanted to do what is best for students.  To that end Rep. Massullo worked with local educators to craft three important education bills for his first legislative session.  Rep. Massullo, a well-respected medical doctor, could have focused his work solely on health and medical issues but thankfully for us, has made a commitment to education.

Rep. Ralph Massullo filed HB407, “Alternative High School Graduation Requirements”, one of the most positive high school graduation bills I have seen in years. This necessary and commonsense educational bill would give students multiple options and pathways to earn a standard high school diploma. Currently, students must pass a state assessment test or receive a concordance score on the national ACT or SAT to graduate high school.  Because of Rep. Massullo’s bill, students could also meet the graduation requirements by attaining an industry vocational certification combined with an industry vocational competency test, or demonstrating mastery in academic standards in a personal educational portfolio, or by receiving a high enough concordance score on various national and standardized assessments.

These multiple pathways mean that students will not be forced into a one- size- fits- all graduation track.  Students can receive a high school diploma and career industry certifications which could lead to employment after high school.  Other students who excel in studies but struggle passing exams would be able to demonstrate their mastery of standards through providing evidence of learned skills and standards on multiple exams rather than a single state assessment test.  All of these options would result in doing what is best for students.

A similar bill was sponsored in the Senate following Rep. Massullo’s bill.  SB 584, sponsored by Florida Sen. Bill Montford, is very similar in that it too offers pathways to a diploma but only if students failed the 10th-grade English Language Arts Florida Standards Assessment or the Algebra I end-of-course exam. It would not allow students to automatically substitute state exams with a portfolio, industrial certification or alternate test. I have great respect for Sen. Montford, and I believe Rep. Massullo’s and Sen. Montford’s versions could be merged into an excellent bill that does what is best for students. I am encouraged that with the right support that is just what might happen.

Rep. Massullo also filed HB 6015, “High School Graduation Requirements” (Senate companion bill-SB 782 by Sen. Mayfield) which will provide more equitable options for interscholastic/varsity sport students by providing students who participate in varsity sports a physical education waiver so they would not have to take a P.E. course in addition to their other high school courses. This option is currently available to students that are in courses such as marching band, dance, and JORTC. If passed this wavier could enable students to participate in additional elective course options.

The third educational bill Rep. Massullo filed is HB 591, “Maximum Class Size” (Senate companion bill-SB 808 by Sen. Mayfield). This bill gives public schools the same allowances as charter schools in meeting the state’s classroom size amendment. If approved, this change would permit public schools and districts to meet the classroom sizes based on a school average.  This has been permitted all along for charter schools.  This would empower schools and teachers to better assign students based on their needs rather than to just maximum classrooms.  It would also bring common sense cost management by not requiring school and districts to fund an entire new classroom for increasing enrollment by a single student.

We are grateful that Rep. Massullo is passionate about education and is becoming informed on the issues that have impacted education in Citrus County and Florida.  Rep. Massullo is listening to stakeholders and taking action.  We all have a responsibility now to assist our Rep. Massullo to support and help him get these bills passed.  I encourage all our parents, teachers and students to communicate with their state legislators. Ask them to support these bills in their committees and pass these bills into law.

Thomas Kennedy is a School Board Member for Citrus County School District. Read his blog at

Students apply ASAP to be a House Page or Messenger, deadline approaches

Students apply now to be a House Page or Messenger, deadline approaches

Deadline with Rep. Ralph Massullo‘s office is February 17, 2017, DO NOT DELAY!

Pages Week 1 - 2015 Regular SessionIt is that time of year again for House Representatives to select their Pages and Messengers for the 2017 Legislative Session.  Our local Representative Ralph Massullo‘s deadline is February 17, 2017. 12noon. For requirements click here to download information or see information below.

IMG_2201Each year State Representative’s such as Representative Ralph Massullo sponsors one Page and one Messenger from their districts to serve in the Florida House of Representatives. Being selected to serve in the House Representative Page and Messenger is a privilege and an honor. Pages and Messengers assist the Representatives during the Capitol’s busiest time of year, the legislative session.

3-04-2015_NE_TLH-4In addition to the application process Pages/Messengers may be asked to submit other information to help representatives  make their choice.

Mock SessionDuring this week the Pages and Messengers in addition to their duties, will tour the Florida Capitol, visited the Museum of Florida History, toured the Historic Capitol. met the Governor, attended House committee meetings, and participated in mock Legislative sessions in the House Chamber. Pages duties include being a ‘gopher’ for the House Representatives on the floor of the House Chambers. Pages deliver papers, messages and other items to the representatives. Messengers are not on the floor of the House but instead deliver messages throughout the Capital and surrounding city blocks for the representatives and their staff.

During the week Pages and Messengers learn basic parliamentary process and how a bill becomes a law and then develop a mock bill of their own. The Pages and Messengers have a mock session where they present their bill on Second Reading (answering questions) and then move to Third Reading (debating the bill) before closing on their bills. Finally, the Pages and Messengers vote on the bill. This is all done while the Pages and Messengers sit in the actual desks of the Florida Representatives and use the official voting system to vote.

Not only do the Pages and Messengers get to experience these wonderful opportunities but so did parents as they were allowed to accompany their child everywhere they went.

For more information on the Florida House of Representatives Page and Messenger program visiting


Click here for 2017 Page and Messenger letter

Click here for 2017 Page and Messenger Application
The application should be completed and returned by February 17, 2017 via email to or fax at (850)488-9707.