‘I have dedicated people to work with’
Shelby County Schools Educational Technology Program Area Specialist Lauren Woolley was recently received the Alabama Educational Technology Association’s Emerging Leader Award.
Woolley, 56, lives in Hoover. She grew up in Decatur, Ga. She attended the University of Montevallo for undergraduate and graduate school, and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education.
“I have one incredible son who gives me inspiration every day,” Woolley said.
Woolley is actively involved in her church, Holy Apostles Episcopal Church.
What do you love about Shelby County?
Shelby County has an excellent school system. I am proud to say that I am an employee of Shelby County Schools. I love the diversity of Shelby County which I think is a huge benefit to all students. I have dedicated people to work with.
How long have you served as the educational technology program area specialist for Shelby County Schools? What does the position involve?
I have worked in the Technology Department for 16 years. I have served as the Technology Program Area Specialist for Shelby County schools for 10 years and prior to that I was a Technology Resource Teacher. I have been working for Shelby County Schools for 27 years. I began my career here as a first grade teacher at Oak Mountain Elementary.
As the Tech. Program Specialist I work closely with the Tech Resource Teachers to design professional development for classroom teachers to help them learn new and innovative ways to integrate technology into their curriculum. I also work with the school Technology Coordinators in developing their school tech plans and implementing the State Technology Course of Study. I work closely with the Instructional Staff as well since technology plays such a huge role with students in all curricular areas and as they work to develop 21st Century skills.
What does it mean to you to be named the third recipient of the Alabama Educational Technology Association’s Emerging Leader Award? What is the process for being chosen?
It is a huge honor to be selected as the recipient of the Al. Ed. Technology Association’s (AETA) Emerging Leader Award. I have such great respect for the members of AETA. The members of AETA are dedicated to educating all students and giving them opportunities to learn in the ways students learn today. This group of people is very dedicated to what they do and work very hard. So, to be selected among this group is a very big honor.
Nominations are accepted from members of AETA. I was nominated by a member of the Shelby County Technology Department. The nominations go before an AETA committee made up of other AETA members that have received an AETA award in the past. This committee reviews the nominations to select the recipient for each year.
In your opinion, what are some of the most significant ways technology has impacted education in the last five to 10 years?
I believe that technology has had a big impact on education in the last 10 years and will continue to grow. The students today have grown up with technology and it comes natural to them. Technology increases student engagement in the class, students are able to interact with their teacher and fellow classmates through various technologies, and teachers are able to get quick feedback from their students to gauge understanding and adjust their teaching accordingly. It makes anytime anywhere learning a possibility.
Do you have any specific goals regarding technology in Shelby County’s schools?
My goals right now are working to increase teacher understanding of some of the tools and resources that are available with technology for them and their students. Teachers have so many responsibilities right now in addition to their teaching. They do not have the time to explore and learn new technologies. If we can do the research and find the best tools and approaches to them then share with teachers and teach them ways to use and implement them with their students, it can impact their teaching and student learning.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I love working with other teachers and helping them to use technology with their students. It is so exciting seeing teachers working together and sharing ideas when they learn new technologies for them and their students.
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy in your spare time?
I love spending time with my family and friends. I have some amazing friends to enjoy. I love to go camping with my friends. I just enjoy time to relax and have fun. I enjoy activities with my church and being involved there. My church is involved with soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity and many other activities to give back to the community.
If someone gave you an all-expenses-paid vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?
Maybe Italy! That is just somewhere I have always wanted to go. Or anywhere there is a beach! I love the beach it is always calming to me.
What is your favorite spot in Shelby County?
Oak Mountain State Park – I enjoy camping there, playing golf, a great place to go bike riding and hiking. I of course love all good restaurants and enjoy opportunities to go out with my family and friends to relax and enjoy a good meal.