Evansville Plans for a 2010 New Tech Launch
While fidelity to the New Tech model always remains the same, the exploration process is unique for each school corporation. David Dimmett, chief academic officer for the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC), detailed his district’s experiences in planning for the 2010 launch of its newest school, the New Tech Institute.
Schools across Indiana are implementing the New Tech model, but EVSC did not select the model to be part of a bandwagon. The corporation truly believed that the model could uniquely meet the needs of its students and community.
“The key for us is to be purposeful in anything that we do,” Dimmett explained. “So, we compared the New Tech model to the goals in our strategic plan for the school and began talking with local leaders to gauge New Tech’s potential impact on our community.”
During this initial examination New Tech proved to be what Dimmett considered an incredibly powerful model, so EVSC representatives delved further into the exploration phase.
“We visited Columbus Signature Academy to explore what others were doing. We also began considering the needs of the regional economy and what students would need as they entered it.”
After deciding that New Tech added value to their mission, EVSC members began seeking resources and partnerships.
“New Tech is a big financial commitment,” Dimmett explained, “but it’s also an incubator for professional development and learning. That’s something we want in our district because it carries into settings even outside of the classroom.”
In a short amount of time, EVSC obtained the resources necessary to implement a New Tech High School. Dimmett is quick to identify several characteristics that were vital to successfully navigating the implementation process—some of the same characteristics that might prevent other schools from transitioning to such an innovative model.
“School districts have very stable organizational cultures,” Dimmett explained. “New Tech can rub against the status quo, so you have to be sure to have flexible and innovative people at the table.”
He also points out the tremendous time commitment New Tech implementation requires.
“You have to devote a lot of time for incubating and prioritizing ideas,” Dimmett shared. “We had weekly meetings and even exchanged emails to share thoughts between those meetings.”
Despite the amount of effort implementing New Tech requires, Dimmett maintains that it is worthwhile.
“New Tech can be challenging to implement, but you just have to stay focused on its powerful student outcomes,” Dimmett said. “The excitement of knowing you have the potential to change lives and communities is what helps you through the process.”
Published: December 2009