David Miyashiro served as the assistant superintendent of education services for the Encinitas Union School District for four years.During this time, he spearheaded a plan for the district to buy iPads for its third through six-graders for $1.7 million, the funds for which came from bond money for technology improvements.
He also crafted the district’s yoga program. Now, he’s taking over as superintendent of the Cajon Valley Union School District. In this Q&A, he talks technology, yoga and the district’s deficit.
Q: What role do you see technology playing in education?
A: We’re at a point in time where technology and education can no longer be separate. Finding content is no longer about what’s in textbooks. Information is everywhere. We want to show students how to cull the best information. And it’s not just about consuming content. Students can make a movie, a podcast and create different kinds of presentations that can be shared on a multitude of platforms.
Q: How do you tailor the curriculum on iPads so that the content isn’t taking a backseat to the technology?
The goals as far as content and curriculum don’t change for students. Technology allows you to do things more efficiently and more precisely. For example, let’s say you want to tear a piece of paper. You tear it with your hands, it’s rough in the middle. You use scissors, that’s more precise. Now take a paper cutter, you can do mass amounts with precision and less time.
So with content and curriculum, you still know what you want kids to do. But it’s faster and precise. When kids do an assignment like answering math questions (on the iPad), the software grades it and provides feedback instantly. Teachers don’t have to take home the assignment, grade it and put in the computer. Teachers and students do more in less time. The technology doesn’t eclipse content if we’re doing it the right way.
Q: How did the district’s yoga program come about?
We opened the door three years ago by hiring a yoga teacher when I was serving as interim principal at Paul Ecke. It was well received. A couple years later, the Jois Foundation sponsored an initiative at Capri for a full-time yoga teacher. And then we (the district) discussed our big goals, and those were to increase student performance, reduce childhood obesity and create healthy avenues for all kids district-wide. We developed a farming, cooking, yoga and character education program and received a grant from the Jois Foundation.
Q: The district faces a deficit (revenues of $44.7 million and expenditures of $48.8 million as of Jan 31). Do you see this getting better or worse in the next few years? And what do you think could be done to bring this down?
The school board has made cuts along the way to ensure our budget is solvent. We’re actually at a point with this recent $4 billion state surplus that (the EUSD) budget is likely to start to recover. It looks positive. But we need to be cautiously optimistic and not put things back into place all at once and be wise about what programs we restore.
Q: Beyond digital learning and yoga, are there other notable programs you worked on for the district?
The technology aspect — it’s not so much about the technology. It’s about pedagogy, which is an education philosophy. It used to be that teachers were deliverers of content. Students showed up to class and they get knowledge from the lecture or textbook. The biggest shift is that with all of these advances in technology is that content is everywhere and easy to find. So the teacher’s role is not to deliver content, but to facilitate learning. The idea is for teachers to be less of a “sage on the stage” and more of a coach and mentor working with individuals. It’s really changing the way that classroom learning happens on a day-to-day basis.
Q: Have other districts toured the schools here to get a sense of how students use iPads?
The National School Boards Association visited us — a big honor. We get calls all the time from districts in other states to look at our policies, plans and how to determine which apps to use on their iPads. And because we went iPad, last week two apple executives toured our schools.
Q: Any advice for your successor?
Breathe. Do yoga breathing (laughs). Just focus on people and listening to your parents, principals and teachers. Don’t try and do too much at once. Have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously