The role of the CTO in school districts is evolving into one of the most important leadership positions in education, yet many who currently fill that job lack the skills and background to make the
Recently, PAECT named Brian Borosh, CETL, as their Outstanding Chief Technology Officer of the Year. It’s a well-deserved honor; Brian has been a transformative leader at East Stroudsburg Area School District in PA.
Brian didn’t set out to be a CTO, but a chance conversation with an old friend set him on his career path. While working as a river guide during his last semester of college, Brian was encouraged to apply for ed tech positions by a co-worker who also happened to be an assistant principal. He took his friend’s advice, got started as a computer systems analyst, and worked his way up to the CTO position from there. A long-time CoSN member, he recalls, “when I moved to my current school district, which was a lot larger than the prior, I turned to a lot of the resources CoSN offered. I came across the Framework of Essential Skills of the K-12 CTO, and used it as a way to hone my skillsets. The Framework was very beneficial in building and improving additional skills, and it’s served as sort of checklist throughout the past 7 years of my career.” He later earned his CETL certification to cement this knowledge.
Brian has introduced his students to blended learning options like Moodle, Virtual Academy, and Google Apps for Education and even brought them into the process with the creation of a unique student-led eTeam that provides hands-on technology workshops. He’s also shown a commitment to professional development that extends beyond his CETL certification; he helps teachers enhance their ed tech skills with an annual Spring into Technology conference (open to teachers outside the district as well) and accompanying eTech Academy.
In the midst of all this, one of Brian’s signature accomplishments has been enhancing telecommunications at East Stroudsburg. A few years ago, he was given control over the district’s phone system and realized that it was outdated; essentially, each of their 10 schools had an independently operating phone system. Knowing how vital communication is in the workplace, Brian set out to dramatically modernize it. He purchased a new IP phone system and SIP phone service which will smooth district-wide calling and link voicemail with email. Best of all, the switch will reduce East Stroudsburg’s phone bill by almost 65%.
One of the goals of ed tech is to break down silos within the district. Brian has taken a huge step towards achieving that by smoothing the lines of communication available to staff. Brian’s made all the right decisions, but that doesn’t mean it was easy; the CTO position comes with significant challenges. It’s challenging to support an organization that is constantly in change (true of every school district, with its yearly cycles), and challenging to contribute to that change effectively. It’s a crucial part of any CTO’s job to ensure that the changes he makes are truly sustainable and transformative, which requires staying on the cutting edge of new technology without getting caught up in temporary fads. Brian has done just that in his career as a CTO, and has expanded the opportunities in his district accordingly.