When Michael Hall became principal of Houston County High School in Warner Robins, Ga., seven years ago, the school had fewer than 100 computers and no network in place. When Hall left last year, Houston County High was one of only two schools in the country named "Best of the Best" in the 2004 Twenty-First Century Schools of Distinction Award Program.
Based on that track record, Hall was appointed by the Georgia Department of Education in 2004 to oversee administrative, educational and internal technology for the entire state. He also oversees the department's statewide Student Information System project.
"I like the challenge of solving today's problems or developing new strategies with solutions that weren't invented 10 years ago and change so rapidly," Hall said. "Changes made in public-sector IT greatly impact the direction and sustainability of our society as we know it."
Hall turned Houston County High into one of the few completely wireless schools in Georgia. More than 1,200 computers, 13 wireless labs and nine fixed labs now play an integral part in students' daily education at the facility.
Hall said his biggest challenge is helping people understand the role of IT in a digital society.
"Education is an area of the public sector that has the greatest impact on our future success, but yet is the least receptive to change," he said. "Providing 21st century learning environments for students today requires both philosophical and pedagogical changes. Twenty-first century learning environments promote student engagement, collaboration and individualized learning plans. Technology changes the role of the teacher to one of being a facilitator of information rather than the source of information."
Hall said health care, economic development and education top his list of the biggest challenges facing government today.
"Each area carries its own unique obstacles, and yet they also significantly impact the success of each other," he said. "Government will be required to make some tough choices on priorities and funding will be a major issue. Government will also be faced with some new IT challenges that will cause a significant change in the status quo. Connectivity, mobility and capability of digital cities are going to drastically change the way government functions and the types and number of services offered."
Congratulations to this year's group of "Doers, Dreamers and Drivers," who appear in the March issue of Government Technology magazine.