WPS Director of Technology Leisha Simon discusses the role of technology in education


Credit: Courtesy of Leisha Simon

Above is Leisha Simon in her office. Simon is the Director of Technology for Wayland Public Schools. “I think that Wayland residents really need to have that opportunity to come in and see what students are doing with the technology and know how powerful it’s been to transform the educational process,” Simon said.

Nandita Subbiah

Technology has become an integral part of education at Wayland Public Schools. From the 1:1 Laptop Initiative in the high school to the iPad initiative in the elementary schools, every school in Wayland has integrated technology into their curriculum in some way. At the center of this revolution is Leisha Simon, the director of technology for Wayland Public Schools.

Prior to working in education, Simon worked in the corporate world, including in corporate training, for about 20 years. She says that this experience helps her as the director of technology.

“From my experience and expertise in the corporate world and my teaching experience, I moved up to the technology director position,” Simon said.

Simon said that her “passion for children and education and love of technology” inspired her to pursue this career path.

“My experience with business and technology prior to going into a school system really gave me the foundation to understand how schools needed to change and to educate our students to be prepared to go into business,” Simon said. “I had a good understanding of the technology needed to teach students throughout the school system.”

Simon has been working as director of technology for Wayland Public Schools for eight years. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Education from SUNY Albany. Before working as director of technology for Wayland Public Schools, she was the director of technology for Marlborough Public Schools for two years and taught business and computer skills at Marlborough High School for seven years.

As director of technology, Simon has several different roles.

“A big part of the job is devoted to the network infrastructure and data center infrastructure [for Wayland Public Schools],” Simon said.

In addition, Simon is also responsible for all of the client machines in the school system, including the laptops used by middle and high school students in the 1:1 Initiative. She is responsible for “purchasing, setting up and deploying” all of the devices owned by the school district. She also looks at what types of computer skills are being taught at the schools.

On a regular work day, Simon checks in with technology department staff members and then works on long-term projects. Currently, Simon is working on researching different student information systems to replace iPass, the system that is used to store student data.

Simon is also working on another project surrounding student data privacy.

“We are assessing the programs we are using that are online, we are looking at what types of student information is being stored there, and we are developing contracts [between Wayland Public Schools and the vendor] to make sure that the vendor housing our student data information… is properly managing and securing the data,” Simon said.

The student data privacy project is looking at several aspects of student privacy.

“We are looking [to make sure] that they are keeping the student data secure. They aren’t doing anything with the data that we wouldn’t want them to do with it, and we are understanding when the contract ends what they would be doing with the data,” Simon said. According to Simon, she wants to make sure that programs being used by the school are not sharing the data with any other companies.

If a company refused to sign the contract, Wayland Public Schools would either allow families to opt out of using the program or the school system would not use the application at all.

Simon observes how technology is being implemented in the schools through her monthly meetings with teachers and through talking to students during her visits to the schools. She also takes input on technology usage from Wayland residents through their participation on the Tech Committee, which develops plans for technology projects in the schools.

“I think that Wayland residents really need to have that opportunity to come in and see what students are doing with the technology and know how powerful it’s been to transform the educational process,” Simon said. “[We want them to see] how we continue to make improvements in teaching and learning because of the technology that we have and that their tax money is well spent and is well used in schools.”