Bob Fishtrom – Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District
Bob Fishtrom, the director of information technology at the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, is a visionary architect shaping the future of technological innovation, academic excellence, and community empowerment in the heart of Silicon Valley.
“Our district reflects the diversity, ambition, and spirit of innovation that defines the region,” Fishtrom says.
The district serves the communities of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. The educational landscape encompasses two comprehensive high schools, an alternative high school, an adult education center, the Freestyle Academy for Arts & Technology and Middle College, providing learning and growth opportunities for over 4,300 students.
Beyond the traditional boundaries of education, MVLA boasts a robust adult education program. Through their study at MVLA’s Adult School, thousands of adults earn their high school diploma or GED annually, integrate into the community through ESL (English as a Second Language) and citizenship programs, and receive career training and job placement in various fields. The course catalog for the Adult School is readily available online, fostering accessibility and transparency in educational offerings.
In his role leading the district’s IT department, Fishtrom is at the forefront of MVLA’s efforts.
The future of learning
Integrating technology in MVLA classrooms is a dynamic process overseen by Fishtrom and his dedicated team. Vivi, a wireless projection tool, has been deployed to enhance the teaching experience, allowing teachers to project wirelessly from any device. Also, implementing Top Cat Lightspeed Sound Systems ensures optimal audio delivery within classrooms, providing teachers with microphones for clear communication, regardless of their location in the room.
On the integration front, Fishtrom’s team also implemented ClassLink—a comprehensive program handling account provisioning, single sign-password resets, and multifactor authentication. This initiative enhances the district’s security and streamlines essential processes for teachers and students.
“These integrations allow for seamless integration and access to various resources—instructional tools teachers used for teaching and learning,” Fishtrom says.
The district’s commitment to staying at the forefront of technology is further demonstrated by a recent comprehensive upgrade of the entire server stack in August. This upgrade, encompassing physical and virtual servers, has significantly improved performance, with meticulous backups on-premises and in the cloud, ensuring data integrity and availability.
Artificial intelligence poses a significant challenge for school districts. Recently, MVLA hosted a speaker from Digital Promise, an organization dedicated to spurring innovation in education to improve the opportunity to learn for all educational partners
“We are offering opportunities for staff to explore different AI tools and discuss how to implement them effectively into the curriculum,” Fishtrom says. “We also need to educate students and parents.”
More than just technology
Fishtrom’s influence extends beyond the realm of technology; it permeates the entire educational experience at MVLA. As a former teacher and site administrator, Fishtrom is a strategic leader, orchestrating technological advancements that align with the district’s educational goals. One of his key initiatives is classroom standardization, driven by the goal of providing a consistent and user-friendly experience for teachers.
“Because we have adopted standards across all classrooms, teachers know what to expect when entering a room and how to use the available technology tools. It also makes it easier for the IT staff to support the instructional program,” Fishtrom says.
Fishtrom is also committed to continuous professional growth, as he recently participated in the California IT in Education’s (CITE) Certified Chief Technology Officer program (CCTO). This rigorous, 12-month program provided training centered around best practices in educational technology, project planning, evaluation and assessment tools, and networking.
“MVLA’s support of my professional growth demonstrates their commitment to staying abreast of the everchanging edtech landscape and enhancing the leadership skills of its staff,” Fishtrom says.
Fishtrom says he has always been passionate about technology and remembers learning BASIC programming on an Apple IIe in 7th grade. He studied history at San Francisco State University and was pushed by his parents to “go into computers.”
“Once I started teaching in 1995, I realized technology has power in education and wanted to extend learning opportunities for all my students. At this point, I pursued a master’s degree in education focusing on Instructional Technologies.”
Fishtrom spent 12 spent years teaching history and technology courses in the Sequoia Union High School District. He then served six years as a vice principal at Carlmont High School before assuming the role of Director of Instructional Technology for Sequoia. He joined Mountain View in his current role in September 2019.
Having worked for two highly supportive districts throughout his career, Fishtrom says he has been blessed with the opportunity to grow as a professional and watch how his work impacts the lives of teachers and students.
“The IT department is the backbone of any school district because we make all the systems work together,” Fishtrom says. “I value our partnerships with administrative leaders, teachers, and support staff.”
View this feature in the Winter I 2024 Edition here.
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