Tom Murray has been a teacher, principal, and the director of technology and cyber education for a Pennsylvania school district. He currently serves as the Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education. With successful books, conference presentations, and participation in high-profile cohorts, he has gained a lot of notoriety in the industry, but through it all, Tom has remained a self-admitted reserved celebrity. When approached to take a picture or sign something at a conference, he says, “I do it because I want to be able to connect and collaborate with them and hear their story. But I still see myself as a teacher in a fourth-grade classroom where I started.”
Future Ready Schools and the Alliance for Excellent Education are trying to shine the light on the amazing academic and educational achievements taking place from rural to urban districts. In areas where 100 percent of students are living in poverty and all students qualify for free and reduced lunch, they are working to change the narrative to show political decision makers that teaching and learning are not just about the teacher standing up front and having students memorize facts like it was in the 1970s. “Every day in every one of our schools, amazing things are happening,” he says. “How does our community know? How do our government officials know?”
It’s about telling stories and creating authentic, personal learning experiences for kids, so they’re prepared for the future ahead — a future that involves automation and robotics in vastly and rapidly changing industries. As Tom states, “We have to show the leaders and politicians that this is what learning looks like today. Look at our kids and what they’re creating and designing.”
Tom says that we expect our politicians to be experts in every area, from education to healthcare to finance to global policy, and while they have staff assistance, many of them haven’t personally stepped foot in a school. “And I’m not talking about a quick podium trip in their local area,” Tom states. “I’m talking about really seeing what teaching and learning are like.”
The global connections available to us today are astounding. With EdTech and BYOD connectivity in the classroom, education is indeed an economic impactor for the future. Tom believes that the future of our country and our society truly depends on the education that prepares our students today for an uncertain but complicated tomorrow. To be successful, Tom sees the need to take it a step further and partner with business and industry.
“We need to partner with businesses in an ethical way and in a way to benefit the kids that we serve,” he says. “They’re doing great things. We need to come together. There are places out there now doing incredible research around brain sciences and then designing software that is adaptive in different ways to support learning and the brain.”
To Tom, the bottom line is essential. Districts and teachers are spending a great deal on education technology with budgets that have remained relatively stagnant over the past decade. “We can partner with businesses and partner with companies to do that,” he notes. “We just need to make sure that we do so in an ethical way where student privacy is paramount so that all of us can win collaboratively for our economy and our nation moving forward.”
About Thomas C. Murray:
Tom Murray’s experiences in K–12 digital leadership, which include implementing a 1:1 program, BYOD, blended learning, and a K–12 cyber school where he served as the director of technology and cyber education for the Quakertown Community School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, have been recognized nationally.
A former school principal and teacher, Murray is passionate about proper digital learning implementation and personalized professional learning. In 2015, Murray co-authored and released Leading Professional Learning; Tools to Connect and Empower Teachers (Corwin, 2015).
In addition to his role at Future Ready, he serves as a thought leader and school district consultant for digital learning implementation and transformation. Previously, he was the recipient of the Blended Schools Network Leadership Award, named one of the top 16 “forward thinking EdTech leaders in the country,” named one of the “top 100 influential voices in education,” has been featured in Tech & Learning magazine’s Leadership Profile, THE Journal, and has appeared on various television shows.
Murray’s cyber- and blended-learning programs have been highlighted by FETC Advisory Board, T.H.E. Journal, District Administration magazine, Project Red,Tech & Learning magazine, the Innosight Institute, and iNACOL, among others, and on Digital Learning Day in both 2013 and 2014. Tom Murray presently sits on the
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