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Mark Sheridan's Katie Lavin Uses Teachable Tech, Brings World to Classroom

By Casey Cora | May 20, 2013 7:54am
 Katie Lavin, technology coordinator at Bridgeport's Mark Sheridan Academy of Math and Science, is DNAinfo Chicago's Teacher of the Week.
Katie Lavin
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BRIDGEPORT — The first-graders at Mark Sheridan Math and Science Academy send tweets, author blog posts and use Skype to chat with park rangers in Yellowstone National Park.

Older students produce weekly news video updates on YouTube — the Sheridan Scoop — and work on a program created by MIT engineers that allows them to design video games.

Those high-tech programs can be traced back to a single source: Katie Lavin.

Lavin, 32, serves as the school's technology coordinator and teaches computer class to all levels — kindergarten through eighth grade. Under her tutelage, Sheridan students learn graphics programs, web design, video production, photo editing and much more.

She also helps vet and test technology programs that the school may buy and helps teachers incorporate technology in their classrooms, like "Twitter Tuesdays" and using Google Hangouts for video chats.

And she's become the school's go-to tech guru, charged with fixing the abundant hardware and software issues that arise throughout the school. During a recent visit, students participating in an Academic Bowl practice in the school library relied on her to fix their malfunctioning buzzers. She did, and the kids chalked it up to her "magic touch." 

Lavin, of Roscoe Village, said she "wears many hats" and her job is ever-evolving.

"There is always something new and exciting out in the technology field. It is my job to learn about it and get it to the teachers and their students," she said.

Lavin began her teaching career in Ireland, where she taught kindergarten and first grade. She taught for a brief spell in her native Barrington before taking a job teaching junior high math and science at The Frances Xavier Warde School in River North for five years.

She made the leap to Sheridan in 2008, first as a math and science instructor and now in her current role as technology coordinator and computer teacher.

"I feel very lucky to be here ... I came to Sheridan and loved the five people who interviewed me, loved the school building and loved the ideas that these five had for the future," she said.