Administrator Magazine
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Take Data To Go

How four administrators cut the desktop cord.

By Christine Weiser

Name: David Telesca, principal
School: J.A. DePaolo Middle School, Southington (CT) Public Schools
What we use: Sprint PPC-6700 (

How my school uses it:
“Being visible and in the hallways is important, so the ability to answer e-mails and create quick memos in Word is a feature I use daily. Also, my secretaries keep in regular contact with me via instant messenger, avoiding the need to page me.”

Why I like it:
“The smartphone allows me to manage my building while walking around and maintaining relationships with staff and students, and to be extremely efficient. It also allows me to work effectively from the office, hallways, home, or when I have downtime in another location on or off campus.”

What I wish it would do:
“I’d love for my smartphone to directly integrate with my student management software (SASI) for finding student schedules, grades, and attendance on the fly.”

Name: Eric Creeger, vice principal
School: The Academy of Irving (TX) ISD
What we use: Palm Treo 650 Smartphone (

How my school uses it:
“We recently started using the Treo, and the biggest impacts I’m seeing are in the areas of staff communication, teacher evaluation, and school safety. I’m no longer chained to my desk but can move from classroom to classroom, interacting with teachers and students and serving as an instructional leader, not just an administrator. I can schedule conferences, make notes for teachers, check for messages from parents or teachers, and communicate instantly with others on campus.”

Why I like it:
“For me, the real killer app is instant access to e-mail, the communication lifeblood of the modern school. Also, my teachers like the sense of security. They know now that help is just a phone call away.”

What I wish it would do:
“I would like to have access to the district’s student information system, as well as our administrative database, so I can check on staff information and run reports.” 

Name: David Berryann, assistant principal
School: Heritage Junior High, Newburgh (NY) Enlarged School District
What we use
: Palm Tungsten E2 ( )

How my school uses it:
“We have one Palm Tungsten E2 on each floor for our security personnel so they can see where kids are supposed to be at any time.”

Why I like it:
“Not only can we get kids’ schedules, but we can also access grades, discipline records, attendance, and more. I can talk to a parent on a phone or in the lobby and have the child’s records in front of me so I can ask why Johnny wasn’t in school on Thursday or why he didn’t turn in his English homework. I no longer have to be sitting in front of a computer to get this information.”

What I wish it would do:
“I’d like to combine the PDA with a push-to-talk system so we don’t also have to carry around radios.”

Name: Joe Scott, assistant superintendent
District: Malden R-1 (MO) School District
What we use: HP iPAQ Pocket PC (

How my district uses it:
“We use a walk-through method for teacher evaluations, in which district administrators make several five- to 10-minute visits to each district classroom every semester. This process created a huge burden of additional paperwork, so we gave each principal an HP iPAQ loaded with teacher evaluation software from Austin Sky.”

Why I like it:
“Now administrators visit classrooms
and are hardly noticed. Three different administrators can evaluate the same teacher and get a composite of the three evaluations. We share the reports with our teachers and use the evaluations to focus our professional development program.”

What I wish it would do:
“I wish our handhelds had Bluetooth capability. Right now, we cannot access previous evaluations when we are away from our desks.”

About the Author

Christine Weiser is a writer and editor who has reported on K-12 education technology for more than 15 years.

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