Life can take unexpected twists and turns, and Kim Harrison’s is a prime example of starting out in one place and ending up in quite another.
“In a different set of circumstances,” she says, “I would live on a ranch in Montana today, with no technology — and a horse!”
Indeed, Kim spent her pre-teen and teen years in the rural Northern California town of Big Bend, outside Redding, where she competed and excelled at endurance horseback riding — hoofing out races of 50 to 100 miles just about every other weekend. In 1984, then 14-year-old Kim and her horse, Ralizon, won the national junior championship of the American Endurance Riding Conference, galloping 1,115 miles in one year!
But today, Kim has traded rural California for the suburbs and she rides a desk instead of a horse. She serves as Chief Technology Officer for the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, and as a Board Member of the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC), and the Folsom Cordova community is the better for it.
At Folsom Cordova, Kim oversees all of the informational and educational technology for the district, including all of the information networks and systems, telephones and the staff that is in charge of maintaining it all.
She says Folsom Cordova’s fruitful partnership with SECC means that a growing number of the District’s students and faculty are being exposed to video production and multimedia as key building blocks of their education.
“Being able to have video [production] as a resource is really important for our students because it helps them learn,” Kim says. “In terms of our District, we have several SEVA Labs and I know that the impact that it’s had on those students has been really tremendous in learning about the industry, applying what they’re learning around videography and media to other subjects, and then just being a huge asset for the school sites in terms of being a resource for the school community.”
Kim’s personal K-12 experience was a world of difference from what she sees and supports today.
She attended Indian Springs Elementary School for K-8 a small, one-school school district whose enrollment never exceeded 35. There were three teachers: one for K-2, another for 3-5 and the third for 6-8. She was one of only five students in her 8th grade class.
But what the school might have lacked in technology it made up for with dedicated teachers rich with inventiveness and moxie.
Kim says her teacher for 6th-8th grades, Mr. Otter, had the biggest impact on her. His approach was that of project-based learning, spurred in part by his personal passions. For example, she recalls, “We learned about flight because he was getting his pilot’s license, he wanted to be the first teacher in space.
“So, we built model rockets and we visited the airport, and we did a lot of reading and wrote about it, informational writing as well as fictional writing, stories and poems, a really interdisciplinary, intergrade approach.”
After graduating from Shasta High School, she earned an undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts and a teaching credential at the University of Redlands, and then went on to earn an Internet Master’s in Educational Technology from Sacramento State, at the time an innovative hybrid in-class and online program that is no longer offered.
Looking to the future, Kim sees the all-important relationship between Folsom Cordova and SECC continuing to thrive with “the expansion of the reach of media into all the of the classrooms.
“We needs to come up with different models to be able to take those elements of creating media into classroom assignments so it becomes part of instruction, it becomes another alternative to, say, a diorama or a poster.”
In addition, she sees the need to broaden the number of teachers with teaching skills in media and video: “Our kids have the skills and our teachers need to have the skills to do it, In this day and age, our teachers just don’t have that foundational knowledge and skills. I think it’s essential in the next 5 to 10 years. We want all our students to be creators and not just consumers of technology.”
Want to contact Kim? Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org