District Technology Chief Jerry Crisci Wins Prestigious Award on the Eve of his Retirement
- Category: Schools
- Published: Thursday, 17 March 2022 11:28
- Joanne Wallenstein
Jerry Crisci, the Director of Instructional Technology for the Scarsdale Schools has been awarded the 2022 LHRIC TELL Award for Outstanding Innovative Leader by the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center of Southern Westchester BOCES.
Recipients of this award have demonstrated an outstanding, innovative, or strategic approach to technology integration in their district. The award is given to individuals who continually demonstrate innovation, showcase best practices and implement systemic change in teaching and learning. Winners are nominated by their colleagues and peers.
Ever modest, when asked to comment on the news, Crisci threw the light onto his team and the entire district. He said, “Everything we do is about us as a team. Everyone was responsible for the technology – from the custodial staff to the teachers and the technology team. I have worked with Rachel Moseley (Director of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer) for years and she does incredible work. I could not have accomplished what I did without their support.” In fact, the team worked overtime – and behind the scenes – to build a website that supported the application for the award.
He continued, “I will say I did work hard and put in many late hours. But most of all, I hired really well.”
Crisici, who will retire after 32 years in June, started his career in Scarsdale as the lone elementary school computer teacher. He travelled around the district, working at each elementary school one day a week where each school had a computer labs housed with Apple 2E computers. He taught third through fifth graders word processing, logo design and implemented some programs around the curriculum.
The biggest shifts in district technology occurred when students were given their own devices in place of the desk top machines that were not networked. Now students in grades K-8 receive a district supplied Chrome Book, which are also available to high school students upon request. Once the world wide web emerged in the 1990’s, the district was able to network their systems, which was a revolutionary change in learning and systems.
Crisci believes he is leaving the district in a good place in terms of its technology and that there is adequate funding for everything that is needed. What else can be done? Crisci says, “In an ideal world, teachers would have more time for professional development so they could maximize their use of available technology.” But with the rollout of a new math and science program there is competition for their time.
This year the district will strive to fill gaps in Wifi coverage in the hallways, in the parking lot and fields around the school. They are planning to do a heat map to identify areas that need better service and will install equipment to ensure better communication.
Crisci is most proud of the Center for Innovation which he developed ten years ago with Assistant Superintendent Lynne Shain. This program provided mini-grants to teachers for innovation, and many forward thinking projects were funded and developed over the past decade. A new website highlighting the program’s history is under development and the Center for Innovation will live on after Crisci’s retirement.
Both Crisci and Rachel Moseley will retire this year and the two will be replaced with three staffers. A search committee is in place to seek out candidates for a Director of Technology, a Technology Coordinator for instructional learning and another team member to focus on data.
What will Crisci miss when he leaves the district? Without hesitating he said, “I will miss the students, the staff, the community and the Board members. This has been my entire life.”
Here is the announcement from the district about Crisci’s award:
The Scarsdale Public School’s Director of Instructional Technology Jerry Crisci has been awarded the 2022 LHRIC TELL Award for Outstanding Innovative Leader by the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center of Southern Westchester BOCES.
Recipients of this heralded LHRIC award have demonstrated an outstanding, innovative, or strategic approach to technology integration in their district. The prestigious awards are given to individuals who continually demonstrate innovation, showcase best practices and implement systemic change in teaching and learning. Winners are nominated by their colleagues and peers.
Crisci will retire in June following a 30+ year career which saw him rise from an elementary school computer teacher to the head of one of the most innovative K-12 instructional technology programs in the nation. He was nominated by his instructional technology team, who collaborated not just on the award application, but also on a website to support their application. Together, they described him as a pioneer and innovator who built a powerful framework for sustaining innovation, which will thrive long after he leaves Scarsdale.
“Long ago, Jerry Crisci saw the future of classroom technology before it was clear to anyone else in our district or the Hudson Valley Region. But he didn’t impose his vision on the community or demand large expenditures for equipment and infrastructure. Jerry is the type of forward-thinking leader who can entice others to dream big and innovate,” they wrote. “He started small, creating successful experiences so that the abstract concept of classroom computing became more clear. With each small-scale model, he was able to help members of administration, faculty, and the parent community imagine the potential for classroom learning and instruction with technology. Jerry repeated the process through the years, allowing us all to see how the application of technology in the classroom has evolved to become an essential tool for teaching and learning. His patient approach and belief in the transformational possibilities of technology set in motion the program we have today.”
His forward-thinking approach led him to become a creator and founding member of the New York Technology Educators Network, and co-founder of Scarsdale’s Center for Innovation. The CFI is focused on reimagining education as we know it, with grants and opportunities for teachers to rethink their instructional practices, and develop, nurture and provide feedback for innovative ideas related to teaching and learning. The CFI also invites cutting-edge speakers to work with Scarsdale faculty, to stir their imagination about what is possible.
“Jerry is an innovator in the truest sense of the word,” said Dr. Thomas Hagerman, Scarsdale Schools Superintendent. “The Center for Innovation has helped our outstanding faculty to push the boundaries of what they thought was possible and achieve even greater results. It is a singular model of what is possible in a K-12 environment and beyond.”
Dr. Edgar McIntosh, co-director of the Center for Innovation also praised Crisci’s work: “Jerry created more than a team, he created a culture of curiosity, of in-depth technical knowledge amongst instructional staff, and of a desire to define what’s possible,” McIntosh said. “He has expanded the thinking and learning of countless adults and students. He will be dearly missed.”