All posts by Jeff Mao

Patricia Aigner Honored As 2020 Frank Watson Awardee

Video created by Lucie delaBruere

Patricia Aigner, Director of Technology for the Rutland City Public Schools was recognized by Vita-Learn as the 2020 Frank Watson Award winner. The Frank Watson Award is given each year to a person whose many years of devoted service, vision and leadership have significantly advanced Vermont educational technology at the local, regional and state level.

Brucie Donahue, 2019 honoree presented the award at the December Monthly Membership meeting. About Patricia, Brucie said:

I am honored today to be awarding this year’s Frank Watson Award to a person whose many years of devoted service, vision and leadership have significantly advanced Vermont  educational technology at the local, regional and state level.

This year’s recipient is an outstanding example of all the criteria that this award embodies. I remember when she first arrived in Addison Central SU. There were big shoes to fill there and she far exceeded all expectations and quickly got involved in the Vermont  Educational Technology landscape.  In her time here in Vermont, she has made a difference to many students, teachers and other educational leaders. She makes an impact (period.)

Here is a quote from her colleague Lucie deLaBruere:
“You can always count on Patricia to be on the cutting edge of conversations around Technology in our state starting with some of the  earliest statewide ed tech initiatives in Vermont such as the Statewide  Data Consortium to serving on the Vita-Learn Board for 6 years, including as President. I believe she is the first woman to hold that position.
She rolls up her sleeves and is a doer. She had a bias towards action. 
You can frequently see her in the Innovation Lounge at Vermont's ed tech conferences -
 often with her Cricut Cutter, and eTextile project, or other maker project”

She has been an ISTE Affiliate President and ASCD Vermont Chapter President. She teaches graduate-level technology courses for Castleton University and is preparing for the COSN CETL exam this summer.  She is licensed in Vermont as a Superintendent, Principal and K-9 teacher with additional endorsements in ELA and Social Studies.  She currently serves as Technology Director for the Rutland City Public Schools. 

As last year's recipient, I am so happy to award this to my colleague and my friend. Patricia Aigner.

Congratulations, Patricia!

Vita-Learn’s “ISTE Making It Happen” Award Nominations Open

Nominations are now open for the ISTE Making IT Happen award. It is an internationally recognized awards program for educators and leaders in the field of educational technology integration in K–12 schools. It identifies and rewards educational technology leaders around the world for their commitment and innovation.

Past Awardees:

2011 Tim Comolli, Lauren Parren
2012 David Davidson, Josh Seamon
2013 Arlyn Bruccoli, John Minelli
2014 Kelly Ahlfed, Amy Truchon
2015 Bonnie Birdsall, Dan French
2016 John Minelli
2017 Karen McCalla, Steve Webster
2018 Lisa Barry, Clarena Renfrow
2019 Charlie MacFadyen

ISTE and ISTE’s affiliates have presented this award to nearly 500 worthy leaders since the program began. The award recognizes people who demonstrate extraordinary leadership, courage, innovation, and persistence in improving learning opportunities for students. Recipients of the awards are educators who:Apply available technology nowMove forward and don’t look backSee students as real peopleTeach through relationships, inspiring, encouraging, nurturingRecognize that further change is necessary but understand that it is a processRealize that teacher empowerment is the key element in technology integrationExpect successMotivate through awareness and access to informationWinners receive an award jacket, an award certificate, a one-year membership in ISTE, and a standing invitation to the Making IT Happen reception at every ISTE conference.

CatchOn Demo for School and District Leaders

Peter Drescher, Director of Technology at Essex Westford has organized a CatchON demo for his district and since Vita-Learn has recently negotiated CatchON’s participation in the Vita-Learn Purchasing Consortia Partner program, we wanted to broaden the discussion to a larger audience for the benefit off all.  

On December 8 from 1-2 PM CatchON will present on the product and answer questions from the Essex Westford team, and there will be time for questions from other districts too. 

CatchON is a tool that uses data analytics and compiles real-time data on every device at home and school, and lets one see and make decisions about the apps and online tools educators and students are using.

Peter has indicated his interest in the conversation along these lines:

Essex Westford is struggling to get a solid “handle” on software, app, and tool use across the district both in remote and in-school learning. In particular they are seeking:

  • To know software/apps usage across the district. Who is using what? How many students and teachers are actually using it regularly? How many licenses do we REALLY need to purchase each year? 
  • To find some way to engage usage and “engagement” with students. While that data are elusive, we want to see what student patterns emerge when they are learning remote or even learning in general in regular school day classes, etc.  Where do they spend their time? How much time are they doing activities, and what kinds of things are they creating? 
  • Seriously determine what we are getting from the companies we now engage with as far as analytics? And how does it compare to this?
  • To understand the cautions this brings up.  We don’t want to engage in “spyware” or put our educators in a position where they believe we are seeking to disrupt their teaching and learning with the tools and apps.  This will take some training and trust and some transparency on our part to settle those fears.  In the end, we hope it can be a tool for finding the best solutions for tools and apps that produce the most positive outcomes and results.  

Join us on Dec. 8 at 1PM.  Register Now for this online opportunity!

New Purchasing Consortia Partners

As part of our Corporate Membership program, Vita-Learn actively works with our Corporate Members to establish negotiated pricing agreements for Vita-Learn schools for our Purchasing Consortia Partner program. These agreements provide discounted pricing or special licensing arrangements that would not otherwise be available to individual schools or districts.

Vita-Learn is excited to welcome our two newest members to the Purchasing Consortia Partner program. Click on the partner’s name below to learn more about their solutions and Vita-Learn pricing!

CatchOn Logo

CatchOn – Learn more!

Screencastify Logo

Screencastify – Learn More!

Computer Science Education Week

#CSEdWeek and #HourOfCode is December 7-13, 2020

Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science, advocate for equity in computer science education, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners to the field. This week is held in recognition of the birthday of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906), who invented the first compiler and coined the term “bug” (an error in a program) after removing an actual moth from a computer in 1947.

Vita-Learn is excited to share opportunities to participate in Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code. Below you will find ways you can participate organized by Vermont educators. If you are organizing an opportunity for students, teachers, and others that is open for others to join, please contact Jeff Mao to be added to this page (or leave a comment below!)

"Coded Bias" Film Screening

A group of innovative Vermont technology leaders is organizing a screening of the movie, “Coded Bias” available to all Vermont schools. They are planning activities related to the film in addition to the screening. For registration information, dates, and more, visit their website

Join A Statewide Focus on Artificial Intelligence and Bias

Help your students understand the role that bias plays in a world increasingly coded 
using machine learning? Learn more at the Vermont Thinks About Code website.

Hour of Code Resources



From our Corporate Members!

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Official Information from #CSEdWeek and #HourOfCode

Share what you are Doing!

What are you doing to celebrate and participate in #CSEdWeek and #HourOfCode? Please post to your favorite social media and use hashtags: #vted #CSEdWeek #HourOfCode.

Vita-Learn Board elects new slate of Officers for 2021

The Vita-Learn Board of Directors has elected its officers for the 2021 calendar year. The new officers are as follows:

  • Kristen Wilson, President
  • Robert Gervais, Vice President
  • Brucie Donahue, Treasurer
  • Chris Johnstone, Secretary

At this year’s annual meeting, held at Vermont Fest, the membership re-elected Kristen Wilson (second term) and Tim O’Leary (second term) while also electing two new individuals to the Board of Directors. The new Directors are Peter Drescher and Susie Snow. All Board members serve 2 year terms and may be re-elected for up to 3 consecutive terms. Currently, the Southwest Regional Representative to the Board remains vacant. The Board of Directors is still seeking individuals interested in fulfilling that position on the Board.

Longtime Board member and past President of the Board, Jessica Wilson will be completing her final term on the Board at the conclusion of the calendar year. The complete membership of the Vita-Learn Board of Directors is posted here.

Vermont Fest Recordings Available Now!

Recordings of Vermont Fest workshops and presentations are now available to all conference registrants and paid annual members of Vita-Learn. If you have not paid your annual membership dues, you can do so here.

In order to view the recordings of sessions, you will need to be logged into the Vita-Learn website. An account has been created for you using the same email address that you used to register for the conference.

  1. Visit
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Click the Get New Password button
  4. Check your email for a message with a link for you to reset your password
  5. Click the link and enter a new password, then click Reset Password

Once you are logged in, you can visit the online schedule to find the session that you wish to view. We are still working on a more permanent navigation path to the videos, but each session has its own blog post on the website blog, and those URLs will not change.

If you need password assistance, please contact Jeff Mao.