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Florida Council of Instructional Technology Leaders

Video - Irwin Adler

Winner 2003:
Mr. Irwin Adler, Principal
Herbert A. Ammons Middle School
Miami Dade School District

Walk into Herbert A. Ammons Middle School and you might think you have stepped into the future. While some students create their own Internet web pages and maintain the school's web site, others are using computers to create works of art or explore geometry theorems using interactive software. Wireless labs teem with activity as students use them to reinforce language skills. Enrichment activities such as field trips to distant museums or meetings with other schools and colleges are conducted via video conferencing. Teachers record student grades electronically and post homework assignments on the Internet for parents and students to access. Administrators and faculty communicate via email, creating a completely paperless school.

While many schools make an attempt to implement a systemic technology plan, but may fall short, Herbert A. Ammons Middle School is a shining example of a school that is successfully integrating technology into its curriculum and enhancing its instructional methods to provide a complete learner-centered environment. The success of this school is due to the extraordinary leadership of its principal, Mr. Irwin N. Adler.

Herbert A. Ammons Middle School opened in 1997 as a relief school for Hammocks Middle School and Howard Doolin Middle School. Since its beginning, it has served a predominantly Hispanic student population. With over 38% of his students qualifying for free and reduced lunches, Mr. Alder has made it his mission to introduce technology into the school to assure that all his students have equitable access to information and resources. His belief - that instructional technology, if used effectively, levels the playing field and allows all students to succeed.

Mr. Adler is a vocal advocate of instructional technology and its positive effects on student achievement. He carries his message throughout the district as he serves on the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Technology Committee. He has been a presenter at the Miami-Dade County Public School's Instructional Technology Conference for three years running. Perhaps Mr. Adler's best confirmation of his school's technology vision is the honor his school received when it was named one of FamilyPC Magazines “100 Top Wired Schools.” Selection for this award was not based solely on the presence of technology at a school site, but the total integration of technology. Schools selected for this honor had a school-wide technology plan that provided opportunities for teacher training, adequate funds for technology purchase and implementation, and improvements in the home to school connection.

All leaders must possess a vision of where they want to go in order to be successful. Irwin Adler has a clear vision of what Ammons Middle School should be and is. As an advocate for instructional technology and its correlation to student achievement, Mr. Adler has made it his mission to insure that his school is equipped with sufficient instructional equipment and resources. To this end, he has outfitted the school with modern computer labs and classroom computers to enhance instruction and ensure equitable access to technology. His commitment goes beyond financial support of new technology. He makes sure that besides equipment, his staff has professional development opportunities such as the participation in the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) Grant that will provide 15 teachers with the opportunity to increase their use of technology in instruction. In an effort to keep up with emergent technologies and reinforce his teachers' skills, Mr. Adler holds monthly technology training sessions and then follows-up with individual staff members to lend support.

Student achievement is at the heart of any school curriculum and technology integration plan. Instructional technology is most successful when it is integrated into the school's curriculum and is used as an educational tool to further student achievement. At Ammons Middle, instructional software resources such as FCAT Explorer, Academy of Reading, Riverdeep, and Accelerated Reader are widely used to individualize instruction. The data collected from these resources serve to monitor and assess student progress. This dedication on his part led the schools to the highest FCAT gains of any secondary school in Miami-Dade County for two years in a row.

Mr. Adler received his B.A. in English from the University of Florida, in 1970, where he served as vice president of Alpha Epsilon Delta. In 1976, he earned his M.S. from Nova University in Administration and Supervision. He began his teaching career at Columbia High School in Lake City, Florida in 1977 as a biology and mathematics teacher. From Columbia, Mr. Adler moved to Homestead Middle School where he was a science and SCSI instructor as well as a PRIDE Specialist and athletic coach. Later at Redland Middle he would teach physical education and serve as an athletic coach. He has worked as Assistant Principal at Campbell Drive Middle, Southwest Miami Senior High School, and Hammocks Middle before being named principal of Herbert A. Ammons Middle School in 1997. He has served as Middle School Coordinator for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, and today, many years and innovations later, he is the principal of one of the most technologically advanced and recognized middle schools in the District.

Mr. Adler has received numerous awards and honors. He was named Music Administrator of the Year by Florida Music Educators Association in 1999-2000 for the State of Florida. In 1999-2000 he was chosen as District Administrator of the Year by the Dade County Council of Mathematics and Science Teachers. Ammons Middle won the Attendance Award in 2001, the first middle school in all Miami-Dade County. Ammons was awarded the Five Star School Award 1999-2000 for outstanding community, parent, and business involvement, as well as, earning an "A" status in 2000-2001, from the state of Florida, one of only three Middle Schools in Miami-Dade County. In 2000-200, Ammons won the Magnet Schools of America award, a meritorious award of distinction, one of only sixteen schools chosen in the entire United States. Family PC Magazine chose Ammons as one of the top 100 technology schools in the Unites States. Mr. Adler received the Recovery Effort Award for the District for work done with the schools during the aftermath Hurricane Andrew and the Administrator Awards from Ammons Middle School for support of the music program. He has been honored by his school community and chosen for the PTSA Service Award for outstanding service to the community. In 2003, he was chosen as Principal of the Year by the Miami-Dade Media Specialist Association.

Mr. Adler's philosophy has always been to provide students at Ammons Middle School with quality learning experiences that further develop their intellectual, social, emotional, and developmental skills. As a leader, he embraces innovation, models technology use, and works hard to ensure a working environment for his staff that is conducive to learning and growing professionally. His commitment to student and teacher technology literacy will undoubtedly ensure a bright future for his students. Mr. Irwin N. Adler is an exceptional and innovative principal who is an excellent candidate for the FCITL Instructional Technology Leadership Award.