Director, Technology Services
Pajaro Valley Unified School District
"Anything that plugs in—or almost!" That's what Tim Landeck is responsible for as Director, Technology Services for his district of 20,000 K-12 students in California's Santa Cruz County. Tim oversees technical support, staff development, Erate applications, the student database, and other data and curricular management systems.
Though Tim now spends his days immersed in things technological, that was not always the case. In fact, he began his career in education as an elementary school teacher in a bilingual classroom.
His interest in teaching was sparked while working on his degree in environmental studies at the University of California Santa Cruz. He established a lifelab project at an elementary school and found he liked working with the students. After graduating, he spent a year teaching at an outdoor science school and enjoyed it so much that he returned to school to get his teaching credential.
Tim particularly wanted to teach in a bilingual (Spanish) classroom, so he also took time to travel in Central and South America where he learned Spanish and gained a better appreciation for Latin American culture.
That Tim now spends his days with technology may seem surprising given the fact his first encounter with computers was not fun. In college, while using a computer to write his senior thesis, Tim lost two-thirds of his work. Though he vowed never to use a computer again, it wasn't long before he did. At the urging of the assistant principal at the school where he was teaching, he started "playing with a Macintosh." He's been using technology every since.
In education, Tim believes technology can be a great equalizing factor; "Kind of like the gun was in the Wild West, just more peaceful." He also sees technology as a motivator.
"Educators have some big challenges to deal with on a daily basis and getting the students' attention is one of them. If teachers integrate technology into their curriculum, then the curriculum can come alive and inspire students to learn. And it can increase teachers' interest as well!"
But Tim knows there are drawbacks to technology, and its expense is first on the list. "Technology costs a lot of money...lots! And it doesn't look like we will ever be “done”. We always need to continue to upgrade and buy more. With schools in such dire financial straits these days, this concerns me.
Given its cost, it's critical to make the best use of technology possible. Tim works hard to see that technology serves his district well, and he also helps others do so. He writes a regular column for Computer Using Educators' (CUE) OnCUE newsletter and frequently leads workshops at technology conferences.
Despite the demands of work, Tim does have a life, which he shares with his wonderful wife and two children in their home in the countryside. As a family they love to travel. Tim and his wife think it’s important to expose their children to new cultures and open their eyes to the world.
Tim is a triathlete who enjoys "playing with the kids!" and scuba diving. In fact, for seven years he used his scuba skills as a volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. He cleaned tanks and fed the fish until the day a white shark took up residence in one of the tanks. "That was it," he says. "I had to draw the line."