Rochester City School District Administrator Honored as Leader in Digital Education

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Timothy Johnsen

ALBANY, NY (03/21/2024) (readMedia)-- ALBANY, NY (03/08/2024) (readMedia)-- ALBANY, NY – Timothy Johnsen, Executive Director of Instructional Technology for the Rochester City School District, has been selected as the recipient of the 2024 Leader in Digital Education Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). The award recognizes a SAANYS member who has demonstrated exceptional, creative leadership in harnessing the potential of technology to further teaching and student achievement.

Timothy recently led a transformative project aimed at modernizing decades-old technology in over 1700 PK-12 classrooms within the district. This comprehensive initiative was designed to equip students with cutting-edge classroom technology. This included the installation of modern SMARTBoards mounted on height-adjustable mounts, advanced document cameras, and ScreenBeams for wireless casting. Despite the immense scale of this project, Timothy was able to lead it to completion ahead of schedule and within budget constraints. He has also played a pivotal role in leading a district-wide transition to ensure all 23,000+ students have access to devices and internet connectivity.

Emphasizing that a fundamental best practice in instructional technology is to start with clear learning objectives, Timothy says that specific learning goals and outcomes must be established before selecting and implementing technology tools. He adds that "educators should identify the need or driving force behind the selection of technology. This approach ensures that technology is used purposefully to enhance teaching and learning experiences, rather than for its own sake."

Among his best practices, Timothy also says that "authenticity should be a cornerstone in our instructional design practices. Authentic learning involves crafting educational experiences that closely resemble real-world contexts, tasks, and challenges. By integrating instructional technology, educators can create captivating learning opportunities that foster deeper understanding and engagement among students."

Dr. Steven Denaker, Director of Learning Management Systems, notes that, "Timothy Johnsen's exceptional leadership, spanning sixteen years in the Rochester City School District, and his pivotal role in expanding the Virtual Academy of Rochester, coupled with his successful management of a 1 :1 Chromebook initiative for all students during the COVID-19 crisis, make him an outstanding recipient for the SAANYS Leader in Digital Education Award."

The district's Chief Technology Officer, Glen VanDerwater, says, "Tim holds a firm belief that technology is a tool that provides both students and staff the unique modality to connect with one another and the ability to deliver engaging instruction." VanDerwater adds that, "Tim has implemented mission-critical systems that have proven to enhance Rochester's graduation rate through our Virtual Academy of Rochester and student engagement using the Google suite along with other instructional software applications."

Jennifer Coon, instructional technology teacher, says that "Mr. Johnsen's propensity for innovative thinking and his unwavering dedication to advancing student and educator achievements, in conjunction with his profound commitment to his vocation and colleagues, are qualities that resonate deeply with all who have had the privilege of working alongside him."

Timothy has received the HEART Award from the HEART Coalition for a Drug-Free Rochester and the Association of Supervisors & Administrators of Rochester (ASAR) Hero Award. He has been a VITAL Educator Program Participant-NYSED since 2023.

Timothy has been with the Rochester City School District since 2008. He was a science teacher and then a technology specialist for lntegrated Arts and Technology High School before moving to a position at central office. He has served as the district's Director of Learning Management Systems since 2021 and presently serves as the Executive Director of Instructional Technology. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the State University of New York College at Geneseo, his master of science in Geoscience from Mississippi State University, and his master of science in Education Leadership from St. John Fisher University.

Timothy and fellow 2024 award winners will be recognized at SAANYS' annual awards celebration, taking place on May 3 at the Saratoga Hilton.

SAANYS represents nearly 22,000 school administrators, supervisors, and retiree leaders. As a professional association, SAANYS is committed to providing direction, service, and support to the membership in their efforts to improve the quality of education and leadership in New York State schools. SAANYS is affiliated with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).