Adam Saville, Piedmont Middle School Technology Coordinator
PEF: What led you to become a teacher?
Saville: I’ve been a teacher for the better part of 20 years. I’ve always been drawn to the power and potential of education. I spent the first part of my career teaching in Marin, Larkspur, and then Mill Valley. Then I founded a children’s theater company in Marin. We moved to the East Bay, and I began working in PUSD eight years ago. I immediately fell in love with the district – both its size and the community of great educators here.
PEF: Tell us about what your work entails?
Saville: I’m the Technology Coordinator at Piedmont Middle School – I oversee the technology resources for the school, and I currently teach a Computer Science elective class.
PEF: Why is technology education so critical at this juncture for students?
Saville: Middle school is a big transitional time for our kids in terms of technology and engaging with social media. We’re delivering lessons around digital citizenship and digital literacy, and we also work with parents and families, to educate them about how to help their students navigate the digital world. We’re collaborating to leverage technology to help students learn grow, while also establishing boundaries and providing tools to help them learn to navigate safely through this digital world.
PEF: Tell us about your role around digital safety for students?
Saville: That’s one of my major roles, and it’s become one of my passions. We need to help students to make the best choices and support parents in awareness about digital safety for their kids. I also work closely with our counselors and the administrative team – we know that anxiety and depression among teenagers is on the rise, and there’s a lot of evidence that suggests social media plays a role in that. We all need to be hands-on and really engaged around this.
PEF: How do you see technology impact students from an educational perspective?
Saville: Technology is part of everything now, whether you’re an artist, a scientist, whatever your interest. For all our students, it’s likely that technology will play a big role in their future work. Some of the greatest problems our world faces are going to be solved by people leveraging the power of technology. We want our students to be among those world-changers. The extent to which technology has the capacity to make learning more engaging, collaborative and creative can be very empowering for our students.
PEF: Can you share a story of a time you saw technology impact an individual student?
Saville: Just last week, I was helping a student who is new to the school. She is navigating her way through a new country and a new language. With the click of a button, we were able to translate her math textbook into her native language. Seeing the look on her face when that happened, knowing that she can now suddenly understand what everyone else in her class is working on, that was a fantastic moment. Using technology to make education more accessible to everyone is very exciting to me.
PEF: What’s the most memorable thing a student has said to you?
Saville: I’m looking at a note on my wall right now from a student that says, “Thank you for teaching the coolest and most fun class I’ve ever had.” Whenever we can help kids feel that the work they’re doing is valuable and important, and it’s exciting to them, that’s where education becomes transformative.
PEF: What keeps you coming to work each day?
Saville: Helping students find their voice and explore what inspires them to do great work keeps me motivated to come to work each day. And I get to work with tremendous educators here – great, dedicated people who are deeply dedicated to teaching, and learning. People that I admire, and respect.
PEF: How does the support of the Piedmont community influence your work?
Saville: Our schools are not getting nearly as much as they should from state or federal sources. So this community plays a huge role in providing what we need. Schools reflect the community that they’re a part of, and we’re very lucky to have a very engaged and generous community that is willing to help support the schools since they know our school’s needs aren’t being met by the state. Without the financial support that we get from the Piedmont community, this district would look COMPLETELY different. What we’re able to do would look completely different.
PEF: What else is important for people to know about our educators?
Saville: Supporting the amazing staff that we have is so critical. One of the major challenges of being an educator is the financial piece. Everyone who chooses to work in our schools is driven by something more than just money, or they would choose something else. But we’re also trying to forge a living, provide for our families, pay our rents or mortgages. It’s very challenging here in the Bay Area to do that while working in public schools. That’s our reality.