Piedmont, Ala., is a town with three traffic lights, a defunct textile industry, and few job opportunities. But students in the small school district there each have MacBook laptops, free Internet at home, and shiny new school media centers that look like they’ve been transplanted from Google headquarters. All those projects—and more—are the brainchildren of Matt Akin, the superintendent of the 1,200-student district. Akin has made it his mission not only to improve the prospects and education for the students in the Piedmont City school district, but to provide a boost in self-esteem to the entire community. A former computer programmer and computer science teacher, Akin is fluent in the language of ed-tech, but he’s been able to match that savvy with an ability to get school staff members on board with even the most challenging initiatives, and a talent for unearthing funds to make his ideas reality. He’s an educational entrepreneur in the truest sense: pitching to investors, marketing his brand, and “pivoting” when things don’t go as planned. This video was produced as part of Education Week’s Leaders To Learn From project, recognizing outstanding school district leaders from around the country.
Coverage of leadership, expanded learning time, and arts learning is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.