Since 2004, Stephen A. Nardelli has been advocating for public schools as the executive director of the R.I. League of Charter Schools. Earlier this month, the league launched a new website designed to serve as a hub of information for students, parents and decision-makers.
An alumnus of both the University of Rhode Island and Providence College, Nardelli talked to Providence Business News about the evolution of technology in education and the important role in plays in schools.
PBN: Why do you think it was time for the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools revamp its digital presence?
NARDELLI: The Rhode Island League of Charter Schools is proud to advocate for and support our 15 charter public schools, which are working every day to improve education for all students. As public schools, we educate and engage the community in our work and ensure that parents, students, teachers, policymakers and residents are well-informed about our schools and our successes.
Thousands of families from across the state are interested in learning more about our schools and it’s important that this information is available in an accessible, user-friendly format. We’re grateful that with the support of a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, we were able to launch our new website and enhance our digital presence.
PBN: Has technology changed the way Rhode Island’s charter schools educate the state’s youth?
NARDELLI: Advances in technology have transformed the way we do many things, including educate our students. Our schools value innovative approaches to education and we integrate technology as much as possible – from art classes using video production to classroom lessons incorporating tablets. We appreciate that not all students learn the same and we succeed by using different approaches to educate our students and help them thrive. We will see even more changes with two new charter high schools, the Village Green Charter School and the Nowell Leadership Academy. Both schools, set to open this fall, will offer blended learning opportunities, a mix of online coursework and traditional instruction, which will help inform the use of technology in all public school classrooms.
PBN: Between when you went to school and how kids are taught now, what’s the biggest change?
NARDELLI: Today’s kids are being raised and taught in the digital age. They are surrounded by technology, both inside and outside of the classroom, and have access to information at the click of a button. Fortunately, we are able to incorporate much of this technology into the classroom, which gives us new ways to educate and engage students. Beyond elementary and secondary schooling, technology has opened the door to various learning opportunities and expanded career paths post-graduation.
PBN: What sort of role should technology play in education and how do you see that role evolving in the future?
NARDELLI: As educators, we must adapt to new technology and channels of communication to ensure that we are effectively reaching and educating kids in the formats that work for them. We believe technology will become an even stronger foundation for teaching as digital technologies expand and more students have access to devices. While technology will continue to advance, the most important factors will always be our teachers, school environments and families, all of whom, whether they are equipped with the latest technology or not, help our students learn and grow.
PBN: Is a strong web presence important for schools in today’s society and why?
NARDELLI: A strong web presence allows schools to showcase their school culture, especially to audiences that may not otherwise have that experience. Schools also must provide their community with all the information that they need in one place. The Rhode Island League of Charter Schools’ new website serves as a hub of information for the public, from news on our individual schools to important information on how to apply to charter public schools. We are looking forward to the continued growth of our online presence and to providing the community with everything they need to know about Rhode Island’s charter public schools.