Geoff with daughters Jessilyn (left) and Kinsey
Geoff BelleauEducation Program Consultant
Career and College Transition Division
California Department of Education
After spending six summers while he was in high school and college working at a summer camp and as a technical trainer for a small accounting firm, it became clear to Geoff that he had an interest and ability in the area of education. Later, as a 5th-6th grade teacher, he put 18 donated Radio Shack Model 100 TRS-80 computers to work in his classroom. His students used them for word processing and math. Some students even used them to learn to code.
During his career in education, Geoff has taught at the elementary, middle, high school and postsecondary levels. His teaching experience has included special education and career technical education. He’s worked as a consultant for the California Department of Education. At the high school level, he worked with his school’s librarian to implement the school Digital High School grant as well as organize the “Net Day” that wired the school.
What technology accomplishments is he proud of? First is the “Computer on Wheels” he set up at his own daughters’ school over 12 years ago. It had its own WiFi and allowed more students access to the technologies. Second is the professional development work he’s done this year (2013) with five schools grounded in the Common Core State Standards, and which focused on what students are asked to do, what tools could be used, how to use the tools, and circles back to what the students are asked to do.
Geoff adds a third, “unofficial,” accomplishment. That’s the the transformation of his own daughters’ learning and that of their friends. Without an opportunity to work directly with the girls’ schools, he’s still been able to provide them with simple tools like netbooks and, more recently, smartphones. He’s been able to show them some collaboration and communication tools like Prezi and Google. He’s taken satisfaction in watching them use the tools with their groups and share them with their friends. It saddens him that such technologies are "banned"; he believes that’s because they really aren't understood.
Officially, Geoff's fifteen minutes of fame was when his high school band got to play at Ronald Reagan's second inauguration. However, there was the prank during the Staff/Senior basketball game. Thanks to the fact that no one had an iPhone and YouTube didn't exist, there is no digital record of the transgression. Today, Geoff says, the incident would have been all over social media, and that's a great example of why he believes it is so important for all of us educators to become colonists and citizens in the digital world in which our kids and their parents live. We can't help students be good digital citizens if we aren't experienced, responsible digital citizens ourselves.
Geoff joined the TICAL cadre in 2013.