Who: John Falino, principal of Dobbs Ferry High School
Since when: He’s now in his third year after serving as an assistant principal in New York City
What now: Falino is a major proponent of the use of social media in school. He credits Dobbs Ferry Superintendent Lisa Brady, who started the same year as him, for creating a new vision for the use of technology by, among other things, encouraging students to bring their own devices to school. “If those devices are used correctly, you have a computer in every kid’s hands,” he said.
The high school’s Facebook page is where the school community gathers to share information and to celebrate accomplishments. Falino relies on Twitter to connect to educators, get the latest research and information and to make sure his teachers see the best material. “It’s always fresh, stuff published in the last 10 minutes,” he said.
The school also rolled out its own app in January with daily updates and push notes. The app was downloaded over 1,100 times in the first month – even though Dobbs Ferry H.S. has only 450 students. “A parent can take pictures of a soccer game, submit them through the app and I’ll get them on Facebook,” he said.
He also want students to learn “digital citizenship,” so they’ll know how to use their devices appropriately in college and the workforce.
Hard-earned wisdom: “I was at first reticent about giving kids freedom. I expected chaos – bullying, lost devices, inappropriate sites. But those are old concerns. The kids have devices, anyway, and it’s all they know. It’s part of them and how they learn.”
The social media he recommends to colleagues: Twitter. “If you are a professional, find the people to follow who will give you access to good, relevant, current content in your field.”