An Infrastructure Revamp at Cicero 99 Changed the Culture of Learning

An E-rate-funded network overhaul allowed the Illinois district to transform the classroom for students and teachers.

Up until recently, classroom technology at Cicero Public School District 99 meant an overhead projector connected to a teacher’s computer. Some E-rate funding and innovative leadership helped change that definition in the Chicago suburb.

The district recently updated its infrastructure and outfitted its students one-to-one with Chromebooks. Administrators felt that upgrading student devices was a must to ensure their success.

“You have, in your hands, the future of thousands and thousands of students,” says Rudy Hernandez, the superintendent of Cicero 99, in an EdTech video.

Before Hernandez and the district’s other leaders could get Chromebooks into the hands of their students and teachers, they first had to make sure their schools had the backbone required to support it.

“We knew that based on the devices we wanted to roll out that we needed to improve our infrastructure,” says Cao Mac, the district’s CIO, in the video.

Cicero 99 received E-rate funding to upgrade everything from switches to the wireless network. Mac and his crew were able to roll out the new backbone over the summer break.

SIGN UP: Get more news from the EdTech newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!

Chromebooks and Connected Classrooms Reshape Teaching

When considering which devices to purchase, Cicero 99’s executive director of instructional and digital technology, Bryan Snyder, says that district leaders needed to grasp what teachers wanted from a piece of classroom technology.

Snyder notes in the video that the Chromebooks have given Cicero 99’s teachers increased efficiency.

The devices also have let educators explore all of the tools that Google has to offer. Since rolling out the Chromebooks, almost 150 of the district’s teachers have become Google Certified Educators.

One-to-One Devices Allow for Personalized Learning Opportunities

The district’s 12,075 students also have benefitted from the Chromebooks. Snyder reports that classroom engagement has gone up, as well as collaboration between students.

By giving each student his or her own device, they are able to get a more personalized learning experience than ever before.

“Being able to use these devices and shifting ownership to [students] has made them able to be more responsible for their own learning,” says Shariel Espinoza, a third-grade teacher in the district.

didecs/Getty Images
Dec 12 2017