Technology Teacher at
Sandy Hill Elementary
Dorchester County Public Schools
"Mrs. Davila has opened up new worlds for our students they never knew existed. She has not only taught students the components of a computer, she has inspired them to create using them."
- Vaughn Evans, Sandy Hill Elementary School Principal
Cambridge, Md. – The Maryland Society for Educational Technology (MSET) is proud to announce its February 2019 Digital Learning Showcase Recipient Norma Davila, a technology teacher at Sandy Hill Elementary in Dorchester County Public Schools.
Davila, who is the first dedicated technology teacher to her school, transformed a space that was reserved to house computers into an area for authentic learning to occur with students. Davilia stated the challenge has been a large one, but is one she has embraced with love for each of her students. She indicated students needed to start at the basic level of turning on a computer and knowing the parts on up to working with Microsoft applications (i.e., PowerPoint and Word) to eventually having children code using a plethora of different tools the school provided.
“I do something that I love every day. When you put your heart into whatever you do you can change lives and that is what I am doing at Sandy Hill [Elementary School],” Davilia, who is a native of Puerto Rico and a native Spanish speaker, shared about her passion to work with every child. “Sometimes I even have to speak with them in Spanish to get through to some of them, but that is okay. I have learned if you can find out how your students learn you can take them anywhere. I listen a lot, take from what they tell me, and make activities to meet their needs and interests.”
Davila works with students in PreK-5 and believes the younger you introduce technology tools to children the better they will be able to utilize those skills in an academic setting to meet their long term goals. In Davila’s classroom, she emphasizes the importance of communication, thinking, and problem solving.
“I started the year with a civility project by teaching kindness and how to relate with others because they learn to collaborate with one another through many challenges,” she explained as many of her students are stricken with poverty and the inability to purchase technology devices to interact with at home; this leaves a great challenge to Davila that she embraces growing up in a similar foster care system herself. “If individuals cannot work together, it makes it very hard to take from these experiences and gain skills sets.”
Davila continues to set authentic learning tasks for her children as they have become more proficient with multiple technology tools and are now working on coding in the upper elementary grade levels. Sandy Hill students are engaged in coding using MouseBot, Code.org resources, Scratch, and Minecraft to name a new.
“Mrs. Davila has opened up new worlds for our students they never knew existed. She has not only taught students the components of a computer, she has inspired them to create using them,” Sandy Hill Elementary School Principal Vaughn Evans stated. “Students as young as four years old are interacting with technology in ways I never did until I was in college. We are so fortunate Mrs. Davila has joined our staff; she is an invaluable asset to Sandy Hill Elementary School.”
Sandy Hill’s Assistant Principal Jon Harper further touted Davila’s success, but is even more impressed with her willingness to love each child. He indicated her compassion resonates in each child Davila comes in contact with in the school.
“The bottom line is, students love going to Mrs. Davila's class and it is not because they get to use computers. They love going to her class because she has an infectious personality. Mrs. Davila demands the best of her students while at the same time treating each student with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Harper shared. “Rarely, if ever, am I called to her class to speak with a child because of misbehavior. Students reciprocate the respect and enthusiasm that she shows them.”
To further allow student to showcase their talents, Davila plans on giving her students an authentic audience come spring. She intends to take her fifth graders to the local public library and use them as technology helpers to community members who may lack some basic computer skills.
“I want my students to know why can use these new skills they are acquiring to be active citizens in their own communities,” Davila stated as the project is in its planning stage.
About Digital Learning Showcase
MSET is taking the opportunity to highlight best practices in classroom teaching, leading, and learning with educational technology from around the state of Maryland. The goal is to spotlight innovations of members and nonmembers throughout different public and private school settings. Each month teachers, school leaders, and community members are asked to nominate individuals who support innovation and educational technology in a school setting.
MSET is non-profit organization with the purpose of promoting the improvement of the teaching-learning process through effective technology integration into all curricular areas as well as fostering and promoting excellence technology in education. MSET is an affiliate of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), a leading international network for technology professionals.