Features

Chris Brown – Sumner County School District 

Elevating tech integration in local schools 

In a world where information is easily accessible at the click of a button, the role of technology in education has become more vital than ever before. As students navigate a digital landscape filled with endless resources and opportunities for learning, educators are embracing technology as a powerful tool to enhance the educational experience.  

Chris Brown | Director Of Information Technology  | Sumner County School District 

Chris Brown | Director Of Information Technology  | Sumner County School District

Technology is revolutionizing how we teach and learn, from interactive online modules to virtual classrooms and educational apps, paving the way for a more engaging, personalized, and effective learning environment.  

As the director of information technology at Sumner County School District, Chris Brown is steering technological progress to bolster the educational endeavors of a vast community. With a dedicated team of 34 professionals under his guidance, Brown orchestrates initiatives to enhance the learning experiences of over 30,000 students and support the work of roughly 5,500 staff members spread across 52 schools within the Middle Tennessee-based district.  

His leadership is characterized by a steadfast commitment to leveraging technology to foster classroom innovation and streamline administrative processes. In this capacity, Brown plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of education within Sumner County, ensuring that technological advancements catalyze positive transformation and equitable access for students. 

“I’m privileged to lead a talented team dedicated to enhancing education through technology, empowering educators, engaging students, and ensuring equitable access to learning opportunities for all,” Brown says. 

Empowering students and employees 

One of the standout initiatives Brown has spearheaded is the 1-to-1 tablet program, a groundbreaking endeavor to provide over 20,000 tablets to middle and high school students and staff members. This ambitious project rolled out in the fall and represents a significant investment in ensuring students have access to the tools and resources needed to thrive in today’s digital world. Brown’s leadership played a crucial role in coordinating the logistics of this initiative, from procurement and deployment to ongoing support and maintenance. 

Chris Brown | Director Of Information Technology  | Sumner County School District 

In addition to the tablet initiative, Brown and his team are focused on standardizing technology across the district. By providing a comprehensive “menu” of available technology options to various departments, updated monthly, they aim to streamline the technology adoption process and ensure consistency across the district’s campuses. This proactive approach simplifies decision-making for educators and administrators and promotes efficiency and cohesion within the district’s IT ecosystem. 

“Think of device standards in IT support like the rulebook of a well-oiled machine. They bring order to the chaos, making diagnosing and fixing problems easier, ensuring everything works together seamlessly. It’s like having a common language that all devices speak, making life easier for users and support teams,” Brown says.  

Brown is excited about several upcoming projects to further elevate the district’s technological capabilities. One such project involves comprehensively upgrading physical security systems across all district facilities. By implementing state-of-the-art technologies and protocols, the district aims to enhance safety measures and ensure the well-being of students, staff, and visitors. Brown’s leadership will oversee the planning, implementation, and integration of these security enhancements. 

Additionally, Brown is leading efforts to overhaul the district’s communications platform, focusing on streamlining internal and external communications. Adopting advanced communication tools and strategies, the district aims to foster greater efficiency, collaboration, and engagement among students, staff, parents, and community stakeholders.  

Promoting digital safety 

Brown plays a vital role in ensuring the safety and security of devices provided to students. Robust security measures, including content filtering and firewall protection, are in place to safeguard against cyber threats and regulate access to online resources. Additionally, a curated list of approved applications ensures that students can access educational content while maintaining a safe digital environment conducive to learning. 

Embracing the potential of AI in education, Brown advocates for responsible usage and integration of AI technologies. Recognizing AI as a valuable tool for enhancing productivity and fostering innovation, he emphasizes the importance of ethical AI practices.  

“Curriculum development includes lessons on digital citizenship and critical thinking to equip students with the necessary skills and ensure responsible AI usage in academic pursuits and beyond,” Brown says.  

Managing a team of 35, recruitment and retention remain ongoing challenges. While prioritizing qualifications, Brown also focuses on finding individuals who align with the organizational culture and team dynamics. Retention efforts center on creating a supportive workplace environment where employees feel valued and empowered to contribute meaningfully. 

Tech passion and educational impact 

Brown’s background is deeply rooted in a family legacy of educators, spanning generations, with ties to Sumner County dating back to the late 1700s. Growing up surrounded by educators, Brown was inspired by their dedication and passion for shaping young minds. This familial influence instilled in him a profound appreciation for the transformative power of education and fueled his aspirations to contribute meaningfully to the field. 

Brown’s interest in technology was sparked during his college years when he worked at a helpdesk for an Internet Service Provider to cover expenses. This hands-on experience exposed him to technology, troubleshooting and customer support, igniting his fascination with the field. 

Chris Brown | Director Of Information Technology  | Sumner County School District 

Despite his early experiences in technology, Brown’s long-standing aspiration was to work within the education sector, particularly in Sumner County. While his career initially took him down different paths, his passion for education eventually led him to pursue a career in educational technology. He saw this as an opportunity to combine his technical expertise with his desire to make a meaningful educational impact. 

Brown began his journey in the field as a network administrator, where he spent almost three years honing his skills. He then transitioned into the role of technical support manager for a year before assuming the position of interim IT director.  

In January 2014, he was appointed to the permanent position of director of information technology, where he has been making significant strides ever since. 

“Serving as the IT director for Sumner County Schools has been an honor beyond measure. Witnessing our educational technology landscape’s growth, innovation and transformation has been incredibly rewarding. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to advancing our students’ learning experiences through technology, and I look forward to continuing this journey of excellence in the years to come,” Brown says.  

View this feature in the Spring I 2024 Edition here.

Published on: April 23, 2024

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