Olivier joins LHISD as its first instructional technology director
By Christine Bolaños
Liberty Hill ISD recently hired its first director of instructional technology with the goal of preparing its students for the demands of the 21st Century workforce.
Jay Olivier has only been at the job a few weeks, but is already serious about making sure teachers and administrators are on the same page, technologically speaking, and that students are consistently and constantly exposed to the kind of technology they will be required to know how to use well into the future.
“We’re living in a digital age and the students at any school district, whether it is Liberty Hill or Austin or Round Rock or wherever it happens to be, if we do not prepare them to live in the digital world they exist in, we’re not really preparing them. They need to know the tools and how to use them,” explained Olivier.
“They need to be 21st Century learners. That’s a buzzword and I don’t like throwing out buzzwords but I do think preparing them where technology isn’t just a computer lab, it’s integrated into how they learn and what they do. I think it’s vital to their success in life,” he said.
The school district recognizes how important it is for students to become 21st Century learners and that is why the position he was hired for was created, he believes.
“Liberty Hill has not had a cohesive vision for instructional technology. One of the reasons for bringing me in is to provide that cohesion to that vision and make sure we’re all working in that same vision and not fighting each other by having a lack of consistency. The vision is to get students prepared to be successful in college and career and be ready for the digital world they exist within,” he emphasized.
Olivier will be making sure curriculum is aligned across the campuses. He will also be managing software systems and deciding what to purchase for classrooms as far as technology is concerned. Consistency is key to avoid, for example, having Apple products at the elementary level, then PC’s at the middle school level and then back to Apple in high school.
“Part of my job is to work with campus and district administration to make sure everyone is on the same page and everyone has the tools and resources to be successful,” he said.
Originally from Austin, Olivier graduated from Pflugerville High School and attended Texas A&M University where he earned a degree in psychology in December 2003. He got married in Round Rock and worked for Dell, Inc., and then went on to work at Texas State University. He and his wife moved to Houston where he taught math for eight years and then once their son was born they returned to the Austin area to be closer to family. He worked in the Taylor and Hutto school districts upon returning to the area.
His experience includes phone support at Dell, running the computer lab and managing instructional technology for the history department at Texas State. During his teaching years, Olivier taught a range of classes ranging from Algebra I to statistics.
He worked at Legacy Early College High School while at Taylor ISD where he fulfilled the roles of instructional technologist and math teacher. He then went on to work at Hutto ISD. Olivier and his family live in Round Rock.
“As a (former) classroom teacher it gives me the perspective to know what works in the classroom and what it’s like in the classroom. I’ve also had time in more of a campus position that’s a non-teaching position, where I worked with campus and district administrators more individually,” Olivier shared. “I have experience at the district level where I’ve worked with district personnel and seeing how they all play together and how it’s all really one system and can’t focus on one side and make sure everything is really integrated all the way through the curriculum and instruction side. If everyone is on the same page then everything is going to be a lot more smooth and a lot more successful and it all plays off each other.”
Through his experience performing district-level work, Olivier has been exposed to a range of technology in the educational setting, including project-based learning to student data systems.
Olivier hit the ground running at Liberty Hill.
“I’ve been in all campuses and have met with all campus administration. I’m still trying to get a feel for everything that’s currently in place. Part of what I’m going to be doing at the beginning of the year is going into classrooms and seeing what actually is being practiced and how it’s being used,” he added.
“The direction I’m looking at going is more mobile as far as technology resources. Moving away from traditional computer lab model where that’s where you do your technology stuff, to really integrating technology into instruction and more mobile resources such as tablets, laptops and chromebooks,” he said.
It’s too soon to tell what devices the district will be using.
“Part of that is to see what’s working and what’s not working currently in our system. A big part of our culture is what’s going on in the campuses and in the summer it’s kind of hard to get a feel for that,” Olivier explained. “It’s really about making sure students have the exposure and have the resources to be successful so when they get out of high school they have that exposure and that experience and they have experience working collaboratively and the digital framework that technology is part of everything.”