In the Newington school system, Southington resident John “Jay” Salerno is the “go-to” for all things related to computers. Over the past 2.5 years as director of educational technology, Salerno has helped everyone in the Newington district—from administrators and teachers to students—transform learning in the classroom through the use of technology.
That’s a big reason why Salerno was selected as one of 36 educators across the globe to be named as a “2017 Google Innovator.”
The Google certified innovator program is a 12-month professional development experience, including mentorship, online learning activities, and an Innovation Academy. Salerno was named to the list in March, and he packed his bags this April to visit London for the Innovation Academy. There, Salerno will collaborate with educators from 11 countries to discuss ways to solve some of the most pressing issues facing technology integration in education.
“Jay has worked diligently with our 1:1 Technology Program for our students and has worked to increase the technology based professional learning opportunities for our staff” Newington superintendent of schools Dr. William C. Collins said in a press release. “He has provided our students, teachers, and the district with a vision that has changed the way that we use technology in the classroom.”
Salerno, a Southington High School graduate, has worked in Newington for over 19 years. He taught computer and business classes at Newington High School for 17 years, and he has served as the district’s director of educational technology since 2015.
In his current position, Salerno helps to provide staff members with technology-based professional learning opportunities, and he oversees the deployment and management of over 4,000 student devices (iPads, laptops, and Chromebooks). On a daily basis, he works to assist K-12 teachers with technology integration in the classroom, while also supporting the district’s educational technology teachers with the student Techspert Program.
This program allows students to be exposed to enrichment opportunities in the area of technology, while also being a resource for teachers, students, and the community that may need technology assistance.
“After one of our educational technology teachers, Kate Wakefield developed the program for the elementary level, we definitely saw the opportunity to expand it to the middle schools and high school,” Salerno said in the press relase. “At Newington High School (NHS), the program is completely student run, where they are exposed to real-life experiences including assisting the IT Department with everyday tasks.”
After being nominated as a Google Innovator, Salerno survived a vigorous application process, which included a proposal of an innovative idea in technology that he will work on with a mentor from Google to help it come to fruition over the course of the next year. In his proposal, entitled “Promoting Digital Equity and Social Justice through the ‘Techsperts’: Every Student, Everywhere,” Salerno envisions using the district’s Techspert and NHS Tech Support programs to assist in developing and facilitating empowering opportunities for all students to create, produce, use, and disseminate digital tools and resources in their lives.
“It is not going to stop at providing opportunities just for students, not only is the community just as important, but the initiative can also be brought to other areas where the opportunities for exposure to technology are not present,” Salerno said in the release.
In part, due to Salerno’s efforts in the district, Newington Public Schools was recently recognized as one of two Connecticut school districts named by Google as a “Reference District.” The distinction is bestowed upon districts that demonstrate excellence and thought leadership through the innovative use of technology—including G Suite for Education and Chromebooks—to drive impact and positive learning outcomes.