Meet Kerry Hurwitch, STCPS Technology Specialist

Kerry Hurwitch, Technology Specialist, is a new addition to the Saint Columbkille community this year. Her expertise provides a wealth of knowledge for our students and families. Coming in 2020, Mrs. Hurwitch will host a Morning Coffee to share important tips for parents on internet safety and technology in this digital age. See below for a Q&A-style chat with Mrs. Hurwitch:

How is being at Saint Columbkille so far?
Saint Columbkille provides a wonderful community for the children who attend, where a child is accepted, respected and treated like family. Saint Cols really feels like much more than just a school. I am loving being part of this special community.

How does technology fit into today’s everyday education – at school and at home?
Technology is all around us. It’s in our home, the places we all work, and certainly in school. I think technology is such a wonderful addition to our lives and when used appropriately, can really help enhance the educational experience. For one thing, it can make learning fun. Teachers can use the projectors to show the students different educational websites, videos, music, etc. Using educational apps on the iPad can make the exercises fun and engaging. Using this technology can make a student’s least favorite subjects become more interesting to them by incorporating games, virtual lessons, videos, and other interactive teaching methods into their daily lessons.

Technology also prepares students for the future. Not just for high school and college, because most jobs now include interactions with some level of technology. The concept of education is also about learning skills that will prepare students to interact with the world and be successful in the workforce.

Additionally, parents can check their child’s attendance, assignments, and grades through online frameworks. Students can also check their homework and grades, and as they get into high school and college they will turn in assignments online.

At home, technology can add to our lives in so many ways. It allows us to keep in touch more easily with loved ones via Skype or FaceTime. Children can see and talk to grandparents and other family members that may not live close by. Most healthcare providers allow patients to log in and make appointments, check test results and request prescription refills. Many people pay bills online and we shop online. Many people are able to “telecommute” and do their jobs from home. It’s not just smartphones and computers and tablets, but smart home technology from video doorbells to thermostats has changed the way we live at home.

What are the top 3 things parents need to be aware of in terms of their children’s use of technology?
1. Parents should be aware of what their children are doing online. Treat media as you would anything else your children are involved in. What I mean by this is you as a parent should know every website, social media app, etc. that your child is “on” and for which they are signed up. You as a parent should know their login/password for every account they have including email. As a family, set up a technology use plan (how many hours of screen time, where devices are allowed to be used, etc.).

2. Parents should know how to manage their children’s devices and their time online. Learn how to set up the parental controls on their devices or on your home Wi-Fi. Most devices today have settings for parental controls. Use them!

3. Be a role model. How much you look at your phone or computer during family time, dinner, etc. will set an example for your children. Your children will model your behavior.

How can parents help guide their children in terms of technology use?
Embrace the technology and learn it. Monitor your children. Let your children know you are going to monitor them. Teach them by modeling it for them as mentioned before. You are a role model. Teach them that once something is out there whether texted, emailed or posted online that it is permanent. Even if they think they have deleted it, once it is out there, then it is out there. Someone saw it. Someone screen shot it. Be mindful of how you interact online and if you wouldn’t say it out loud and in person, it does not belong online.

Use technology with your children. Know your children’s friends, both online and off. Know what platforms, software and apps your children are using, what sites they are visiting on the web, and what they are doing online. Sit with them. Have them show you. Download an e-book and read it together. Educate yourself. Technology is changing and advancing all the time. Read up on the latest changes and keep yourself informed because I promise you, your children already are.