It’s no news to anyone that the role technology plays in education is radically different than 20 years ago. Technical proficiencies are now a fundamental component for preparing students for the workforce. Students who are not given adequate access to the Internet and other technological tools are at a clear disadvantage upon graduation.
As superintendent of Woodward Public Schools, Kyle Reynolds has always been aware of the essential nature of connectivity and the role it plays in giving students a better quality of life. He sees Woodward Public School’s relationship with OneNet as key in helping students graduate with the necessary knowledge to succeed.
Now, during OneNet’s 20th anniversary year, Reynolds reflects on our partnership—one rooted in a mutual desire to help all Oklahomans have reliable connectivity. This shared passion and relationship have continually grown for two decades.
“Over the years, I appreciate the stability of our relationship, knowing at OneNet there are guys who have been there since day one when we started this relationship 20 years ago. It’s important we have people to call and we have people we can trust.”
OneNet has partnered with Woodward Public Schools since 1996 to provide reliable connectivity for all students and staff. When the relationship first began, Reynolds was an English teacher. Now, in his role as superintendent, connectivity is always at the forefront of his mind, because he understands the power that technology offers all students.
In the spring of 1996, Woodward Public Schools received a grant for a T1 line.
“We were very excited to gain Internet. Some of us still had dial-up at home,” said Reynolds.
OneNet engineers made the trip to Woodward on a Saturday and installed the copper wire from their point of entry to their server. From there, OneNet’s partnership with Woodward Public Schools grew. OneNet’s engineers were always available when issues arose.
At one point, Reynolds said their servers had been hacked and were sending out thousands of spam emails. OneNet found the problem and called Reynolds.
“We were so new at this, but OneNet not only helped us identify the problem, but they got in there and helped us fix it.”
Now, 20 years later, Woodward Public Schools is implementing a program to ensure all students in the sixth grade or above have access to a technology device at all times.
Their one-to-one initiative aims to give all students, especially those who may not have Internet access at home, the tools they need to succeed academically. Twenty years later, OneNet is still providing the support and connectivity required for this initiative to succeed.
The two organizations have seen and grown through significant changes and dramatic advances in technology. James Deaton, OneNet’s chief technology officer, sees the benefit that enduring relationships like Woodward’s have had on OneNet as an organization.
“Relationships with our schools, such as the one we have with Woodward Public Schools, has helped build our core tenets and been especially helpful in guiding our services and strategies. Woodward’s, and especially Kyle’s, involvement with education and technology associations over the years has helped schools across Oklahoma.”
The initiative that Woodward has shown in providing technology for all students from kindergarten to graduation is one that hopefully all schools will adopt in the future.
“I have always considered technology as the great equalizer. Not all students have access to that when they go home. I think it is our job to ensure they all have access to the same resources,” Reynolds said.
The purpose of education is to prepare students for life as an adult in whatever path they choose. As technological proficiencies become more and more essential for all aspects of life, Deaton believes more schools will follow Woodward’s model.
“Kyle’s vision for rural schools is one we share as well. Technology is a necessary tool for success for our youngest generation.”
In the 20-year relationship, Reynolds has seen firsthand the shift in how technology has molded the way educators teach students and has encouraged the use of it, but he insists that the heart of teaching will always remain the same.
“I would maintain that the most important ingredient in the mix is still the teacher. They spend almost as much time with the kids as their parents. Teachers are important to establish a relationship with students. Computers cannot replace teachers, but teachers who use technology can replace those who don’t.”
Story by Alexandra Franklin, Strategic Planning and Communications Intern, Spring 2016