Patapsco principal Imbriale a digital guru — of sorts
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 11:20

Helped school expand wireless, social media

by Bill Gates

    Ryan Imbriale is principal of a school that specializes in the fine arts: dance, theatre, music, painting and ... technology?
    The leader of Patapsco High and Center for the Arts was honored this week as a 2013 Digital Principal by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
    He’ll receive his award and serve as a panelist during the NASSP conference in National Harbor from Feb. 28 through March 2.

    The NASSP described Imbriale as “a technology guru of sorts,” in its announcement of his award.
    “There are some [technological] things I’m proficient at, and other things people need to help me with,” Imbriale joked. “I want everyone at Patapsco to feel comfortable taking risks. Sometimes the risks don’t work out for us, but in others we receive an incredible bang for our buck.
    “When someone comes to me with something innovative, I don’t want to stand in their way.”
    While getting incredible bangs from technology might not, on the surface, appear to be a good thing,  Imbriale has led the way as Patapsco High has integrated technology with its arts focus.
    The NASSP honored Imbriale for “an aggressive plan to outfit the 50-year-old Patapsco High building with a robust wirless infrastructure, equip classrooms with the latest technology, implement an open policy for mobile devices, and create a sustained plan for the use of social media for communication and learning.”
    Or, as Imbriale put it, when he arrived at Patapsco four years ago, he recognized there was work to be done to bring the building into the 21st Century.
    “We believed it was a priority here at Patapsco to insure we had that infrastructure in place,” he said. “It had opened so many doors for us, for students and teachers to use that technology on a regular basis in the classroom.”
    A big push has been in communicating with students and the Patapsco community through social media: Twitter, Facebook and the school’s YouTube channel.
    The school also has a program in which the students design their own applications, or “apps,” for mobile devices.
    “Social media can be a tool for instruction, when used properly,” Imbriale said. “We get the word out  that people can see the good things happening at Patapsco on a regular basis.”
    The NASSP now describes Patapsco as having gone from barely registering to now being ahead of the curve on technology.
    “[Imbriale’s] use of technology and communication to empower and engage his entire school community reflects the direction of this school system as a whole,” said Baltimore County School Superintendent S. Dallas Dance.
    And that even works when you’re mixing techies with artists.
    “To keep kids engaged, you have to find a way to bring the world to them, and it’s clear technology can help with that,” Imbriale said.
    The Apps Club program, for example, takes advantage of the creativity inherent to artists.
    “Our kids can create things, not just use them,” Ibriale said. “The students are creating the apps of today. They’re career-ready right now.”
    Patapsco High was recognized as one of the top high schools in the nation  last year by the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report.
    The College Board calls Patapsco one of the nation’s top arts integration schools.
    Imbriale was honored last fall as an “emerging leader” by PDK International, a worldwide association of education professionals.
    He was named to Tech and Learning magazine’s “100@30” list of new leaders in 2010, and in 2008 the Natioal School Boards Association named Imbriale as one of its “20 to Watch” educators who would shape the future of education.
    “Now I’m a ‘digital principal,’” Imbriale said. “Does that mean I only exist on a computer?”