How Partnerships Drive Innovation and Success for This K–12 District Innovation

Strategic Partnerships Helped Overcome Small Budgets and Staffs

Nidy refers to herself and her family as “North Canton poster children,” as she, her husband and two of her three children graduated from the district, with the third on track to graduate next year. She’s also worked in the district for nearly 26 years, so it’s safe to say she has a connection to the community. Using this connection, Nidy and some of her colleagues were successful in advocating for a permanent improvement levy, which provides money yearly to continually rotate devices for students and staff. Implementing the program wasn’t without challenges, however.

“You have problems with, OK, how do I get all these rolled out to students? Am I taking education time during the day to have them come down and pick it up? How are we tracking them so that we know which student has which device? How are we repairing them? How are we instructing our staff and our students on how to use the devices, because if they don’t know how to use them effectively, you don’t get the value out of having that program,” Nidy explained.

Having a small staff and limited budget were obstacles for North Canton City Schools, as well. Nidy is part of a four-person IT staff serving the district’s nearly 4,300 students. She’s thankful that her team is professional and willing to divide tasks based on their individual strengths. In addition to help from key staff members, Nidy also received assistance from CDW. “I had gotten associated with CDW through our sales rep. I would ask him, ‘OK, I want to do this in my classroom. What do I need to do it?’ And he would help me. And in the fall of 2013, our state announced a Straight A grant opportunity.”

INSIDER EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Watch the webcast now on BizTech.com to hear more of Nidy’s story.

Since the school had already implemented its one-to-one program, Nidy found herself deliberating over what to ask for through the grant. “I picked up the phone and I called Eric at CDW, and I said, ‘Hey, what is new out there? What are you hearing? What’s the buzz?’ He said, ‘Active learning furniture is really kind of taking precedence right now.’ So, he helped me get connected with a company, and we went and toured and learned more about the furniture. Then I wrote the grant application along with a colleague or two, and we found out we won.”

Nidy said she still gets goose bumps when thinking about winning the nearly $5 million grant that brought 1,000 devices into the district, and she gives credit to her relationship with CDW. “I honestly do not think it would have happened without that relationship, because I wasn’t aware of it. It’s having those connections,” she said.

KEEP READING: Streamline one-to-one deployments in the era of remote learning.

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