Tom already had a bachelor’s degree in communication when he enrolled at Johnson to earn a B.A. in Bible and Interdisciplinary Studies and an M.A. in Holistic Education. His work-study job in the computer lab sparked an interest in technology, and after graduation he accepted a position as a computer technology teacher at Carpenters Middle School in Blount County, Tennessee. Good relationships with colleagues propelled his career forward over the years; from Carpenters Middle he was recruited as a technology integration trainer for the entire Blount County school district, then as a technology integration specialist for the Alcoa City Schools.
Tom returned to Johnson for his Education Specialist degree, graduating in one of the first Ed.S. cohorts in 2019.
“My passion is training teachers to better use technology-based tools and resources,” Tom says. “I do this primarily through in-person group and individual training sessions, as well as my dedicated YouTube channel, ‘Tech Training for Teachers.’”
When COVID hit, Tom’s skills became even more important. While the Alcoa schools had already begun a digital initiative and a move toward creating Google Classrooms, many teachers were underprepared for the shift to online learning.
“I was creating training videos, helping teachers build their skill sets, and working to manage and maintain Chromebooks students used at home for remote learning,” Tom says. “A handful of teachers had ‘flipped’ their classrooms for online learning. Thanks to our investments in technology and ongoing professional development, that number has increased dramatically.”
Tom, a certified Google trainer, has also taught as an adjunct in Johnson’s Ed.S. program, helping new cohorts of students understand the Google environment. He is as passionate about education, and about his faith, as he was when his career began.
“There are so many competing perspectives on how kids should be raised and how to interact with culture,” he says. “Johnson provides a biblical framework to help teachers be salt and light in the public schools and to live out their faith in the classroom.”