Computer Driven: This Urban Administrator Gives Children a Head Start with a High-Tech Vision. (Administrator Profile)

Article excerpt

Angela Caruso had a vision two decades ago that set her apart from most others in her field. A former student in Newark, N.J., public schools, Caruso pursued her career in the same district and brought with her what could be a crystal ball of sorts. She wanted in part to offer inner-city urban children the same benefits that she figured their suburban counterparts would eventually get.

"When I started it was just a whole new area," Caruso recalls. "I was able to come in at the beginning and do the kinds of things we thought were appropriate for the district. We were able to be creative in our thinking and look to the future."

"There were others thinking the same way, but like anything in education some people look at things a little bit differently," Caruso continues. "I saw how successful students were with [technology] and how much they loved it. And it made me think how much more we could do with it."

Pamela Morgan, a supervisor of technology who worked for Caruso through much of the 1990s, says Caruso is "a leader that does not fear challenges.

"Angela is truly a visionary," Morgan says. "She has a unique perspective on education and the benefit of that has been given to the children of Newark."

Caruso started her career as a Spanish teacher in River Edge and Hackensack, N.J. But she returned to the Newark school district--which is now comprised of mainly black and Hispanic students and has myriad problems such as poor nutrition and health care--as a teacher of English as a second language.

In 1976, Caruso became the coordinator of a Title VII federal grant for bilingual education, which involved using computers and software programs to strengthen English skills for elementary students. The district used existing computer-assisted instructional programs and developed its own software for Portuguese-speaking children.

Five years later, when other schools in the district started to look at technology in education, she became the district's supervisor of instructional technology and began the thrust to use technology more as a tool and less as a computer-assisted instructional program.

The district had Commodore computers on which students learned programming. The district also participated in an IBM project where it partnered with IBM, Bank Street College and several schools nationwide to learn how to use technology as a tool within the curriculum, such as word processing and databases. …


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