By Jean Paul Niyonkuru
“When you love what you do, work is not a work, work is a play.”
This is a statement shared with me by Greg Limperis, Director of Technology at the Hampton School District in the US state of New Hampshire. I interpret this as a career journey innovation tip. When we love our work, we can continually be identifying new solutions to problems.
Greg has been doing this throughout his career by foreseeing how technology can be useful in education. He took the initiative to transform Hampton School District into an education technology-based schools hub. How did he reach this?
It was amazing to hear his story. Greg was determined to leverage his skills and vision to advance technology-based education. This experience made him successful in the EdTech ranks and IT leadership. He started in 1995 as a Boston College student focusing on urban education. He was placed in student teaching at an inner-city school district in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He did student teaching in the classroom that was broadcasted out to all of the classrooms. “I did my student teaching in a classroom that was broadcasted simultaneously out to all of the classrooms,” he said. The students were primarily from Latin America.
A lot of people there did not know how to use that technology. “Hey, it’s here. I’m going to use it and start to teach students how to use it,” he decided. He started to train students on how to present project-based learning using Lotus software. This enticed others from around the world to come and see what he was doing.
Leveraging this experience, Greg became a computer tech facilitator for the middle school and started to train teachers in the lower grades. He held this position for about 10 years. In 2005, he moved to a new school that had no technology.
“I learned what it was like to not have the technology and appreciate what I had,” he confirmed.
His passion for technology motivated him to transform the technology available into teaching.
“Seeing the students using the technology in the room started to open my eyes, and some of the things we could do with technology,” he said.
At the new school, he launched a T.V Studio. He did a live broadcast every morning. Every classroom in the school entered the contest to broadcast live. Eventually, the contest went across the nation.
In 2013, he assumed his current role as the Director of Technology at the Hampton School District. The district had faith and belief in his vision to advance technology in the schools to the next level. He transformed the PreK-8 curriculum into an advanced Google-based school where every child in grades 3 to 8 has their own assigned Chromebook which they can take home. Kids go to the cloud with Google G-Suite and teachers use the Chromebooks.
He said: “Now every student pre k8 has a Chromebook assigned to them. Every teacher has a Chromebook assigned; every pair of professionals has a Chromebook assigned."
He added that they have an engaging and interactive television studio being run where the students. It includes a green screen studio broadcast live once a week. Recorded content is shared out across the district and the town. He oversees a team consisting of network administrators, computer technicians, data specialists and media coordinators. He provides EdTech support and maintains a technology budget of over half a million dollars.
Tips for Innovation
It was superb to hear Greg’s tips on how to be successful:
· Connect with other people. “Innovation is not something you can do on your own,” he said. “The ability to connect with other people and discuss with them helps facilitate learning for all. It was important at the start of my career to form a professional learning network, reaching out to people in the industry and fellow peers.”
· Seek support. Behind our ideas, there is money and budget that needs to go with the willingness to implement innovative ideas. The support from workmates, peers and influencers who we trust can bring an individual in the right direction.
· Love what you do. He emphasizes that work is not hard when you are passionate about it. He realizes that he loved technology and influenced other people to realize how it can make them better.
· Lead with confidence. Embracing leadership positions helped Greg to enhance his people skills. “Leadership is the ability to identify the skills of the people around and use those skills to help them,” he said.
It was thought-provoking how Greg turned the challenges into opportunities. It opened my eyes to what innovation means, and tips I can use to be successful in my interested field.
1. Design thinking can help to identify problems and generate a solution. I believe that when there is a problem; there is a solution. Greg serves as a great example of someone who turned problems into opportunities by realizing the challenge and generating a solution. In my career journey, I will seek improvement by generating solutions to the problems I face or observe.
2. Love what you do. Greg insisted on being passionate about your job. Since I realized that I am passionate about marketing and communications; it will expand my interest to learn and apply the skills in the field.
3. Build connections. Greg’s story opened my eyes to continually connect with people and learn from them. In this case, I am ready to share what I am doing to get feedback to continually improve. This will be a pillar to achieving my career goals.
I want to be an expert in marketing and communications. So, I look forward to leveraging the motivational advice from Greg. Connecting with others who are in the field is the pillar to reach my career goals. The career journey is not straight. I ought to never give up and continually seek out solutions to the challenges I face in my dream career journey.
Greg Limperis is a Director of Technology at Hampton School District and EdTech Consultant. For more information about Greg Limperis, you can connect with him via LinkedIn.
Greg is also a volunteer with Global Mentorship Initiative (GMI), a non-profit organization that provides guidance and business skills to underserved college students. We thank GMI for their support in sharing with their volunteers the opportunity to be interviewed by SNHU GEM students who are taking part in the Interview an Innovator program.