Eight years ago I joined Le Grand Union High School District basically by accident. The startup I had been working for closed down so the wife and I decided to sell our beach condo in Oxnard and move to Merced to be closer to her family. Merced circa 2003 was no silicon valley and tech jobs were non-existent. I was commuting to Cupertino as a consultant for Ebay and mulling over a move back to the bay area and full time employment when an opening at a local high school caught my attention. It was only for a computer tech job and the pay was ridiculous. On the plus side it was local and I had been burned pretty bad by the dot.com bubble and was not looking forward to getting back in that rat race anytime soon. So I applied, interviewed and was hired.
That’s when I first met Danny Silva. He was a techie Ag Teacher at the time. I was new to education. I began applying all my skills from the private sector IT world to the district. He made sure I stayed focused on student learning and the classroom. Together we moved Le Grand from the dark ages of technology (a place many districts have yet to escape from) into the modern world. We quadrupled the number of student computers on campus. We put technology in the hands of every teacher. We were the first district in our county to go Google. The first with students and then with staff. Danny agreed to be co-presenter for my first ever session in front of live people at CETPA. One day, after having had countless after school discussions about edtech in his classroom, we decided to podcast them and the Small School Big Tech podcast was born.
Danny has always been an innovator on our campus. From day one I would look to what he was doing in the classroom to chart the way the district needed to go. Knowing that I would have Danny around to answer questions made the decision to teach less scary. I’d been in his classroom and watched him teach kids for years. I never realized how easy he made it look until I was standing in front of a classroom of 30 students of my own.
When Danny applied to and was accepted for the Google Teacher Academy, I knew he was on his way to doing great things beyond the confines of his classroom. It was only a matter of time before he outgrew our little district. Even as we embarked on our 1:1 program this year, a program that could not have been possible without Danny’s hard work and dedication over the past several years, I knew he would eventually need to spread his wings beyond Le Grand if he was going to continue to grow as an innovator and education technology leader. People really do outgrow their positions. I think that’s what we should hope for everyone. It’s part of being a life long learner.
This is Danny’s final week, and we are all scrambling to pickup the many roles he filled within the district. We’ve both been so busy we haven’t had a chance to podcast. I hope that doesn’t become the norm. I used to joke about being an IT Lone Ranger at Le Grand but the truth is I always had a great partner in crime, awesome friend and inspirational edtech guru I could lean on, bounce crazy ideas off of whenever I needed to or just back me up when I second guessed a direction we were heading. Danny will be missed by many around here, most of all me. CUE is lucky to have him.
The official CUE announcement is up here. Somehow I made an appearance :)