By Janee Law
Krista Albrecht, an instructional technology specialist in the Elwood Union Free School District, shuffled around the classroom Friday afternoon. She was assisting students of Lisa Margrino’s fourth grade class at James H. Boyd Intermediate School with their multimedia projects on individual Samsung Google Chromebooks.
For the project, students had to research a topic they are interested in and become experts in the subject, all the while putting together a presentation on the software of their choosing. As many students raised their hands with questions on how to use the software, Albrecht tended to each student to thoroughly walk them through the process.
This attention to detail in assisting students and educating district faculty members on the use of new technology has caught the attention of James H. Boyd school Principal Denise Toscano, who has nominated Albrecht for the 2016-17 national LifeChanger of the Year Award. The award program, which is sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, spotlights public and private K-12 school educators and employees across the country who make an impact on students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.
“I think the point of education is to prepare our children to be the leaders of tomorrow,” Albrecht, of Levittown, said. “Because technology is so prevalent throughout the world, we would be remiss if we did not include it as part of their daily education.”
Albrecht said she was shocked and humbled to hear that she had been nominated.
She added, “I was really so surprised that she would think so much of my work to put me in a national pool of incredible educators.”
On a daily basis, Albrecht collaborates with teachers across the district to enhance lessons that utilize technology.
“I meet with teachers and I train them on different technologies that we bring into our district,” Albrecht said, adding that she also helps implement technology that assists all students. “If it’s a special education student who needs an additional assistive technology tool or a student who’s new to English and new to our technology and needs some kind of translation materials, I research a lot of different ways to reach every one of our families throughout the district.”
Albrecht’s knowledge of the latest research on instructional technology strategies helps enhance the curriculum and the depth of student learning, according to principal Toscano.
Toscano said “Albrecht's vision for technology in the classroom is to break down classroom walls and give the students access to information outside the textbook and physical constraints of traditional schooling. Technology truly has the ability to reach all students as learners, and having such a dedicated, innovative instructional technology specialist is the definition of life-changing.”
Working in the Elwood school district for four years, Albrecht, a Google Apps for education-certified trainer, has helped implement many programs, including the districtwide “Hour of Code” incentive, online learning for high school students to gain access to coursework not offered by the district. In addition, Albrecht helped create a districtwide Maker Faire to enhance engineering and STEM activities for students.
A committee comprised of past LifeChanger of the Year winners and education professionals will determine the top 15 LifeChangers and surprise the winners at their schools with their awards in spring 2017. In addition, the top five grand prize finalists will be attend the National LifeChanger of the Year Grand Prize Ceremony in April 2017 in Naples, Florida.