Development News

Tennessee Tech College of Education alum establishes technology fund to prepare future teachers 

Robert and Mary Anne Pyle

Mary Ann Pyle, `87 elementary education and `89 M.A., says the education she received from Tennessee Tech – specifically, technology in teaching – gave her a competitive edge in her career. Now, she and her husband Robert want to provide the same opportunity for future educators through the Pyle Technology in Education Fund, which will support technology efforts in Tech’s College of Education.

“I hope this gift helps students gain the skills they need for their first job,” Pyle said. “And I hope they gain confidence using technology in the classroom.”

Pyle attended Tech from 1983 to 1989 and says CoEd faculty Carl Owens, James Akenson, Gene Talbert and Richard Fletcher stressed the importance of incorporating technology into lessons whenever possible.

“Carl Owens is part of what inspired this gift,” Pyle said. “He was in charge of making sure teachers understood how to use technology at the time. Bartoo Hall had one of the first Apple labs, and Dr. Owens had one of the first Macs. I remember him teaching us how to use the Macintosh and telling us this was the computer that was going to change education.”

Pyle recalls that when she interviewed for her first job in Metro Davidson Nashville, the principal was intrigued by her experience with Macintosh computers. Pyle says she firmly believes her knowledge of technology was one of the reasons she was hired.

She also says the education and experiences she gained at Tech – both in the classroom and as a graduate assistant helping with summer camps and computer labs – allowed her to have a robust career in teaching and technology. She taught in Metro Nashville for six years, then for Adams 12 Five Star Schools in Colorado, and was a Sun Microsystems teacher trainer throughout her school assignment in Adams 12. She also served on fundraising committees and technology committees.

“Tech invested in me with my education and a graduate assistantship,” Pyle said. “They didn’t have to give that assistantship to me – they could have given it to someone else. I hope The College of Education will utilize this gift to prepare teacher candidates in curriculum and technology so that students excel in the classroom. Technology is constantly changing, and it’s one of the best ways to engage students.”

Lisa Zagumny, dean of the College of Education, says getting the right tools into the hands of teachers and students can make a significant impact on academic achievement, engagement and creativity.

“Students know when a teacher is excited to share a new opportunity or approach to problem solving, and that’s where technology comes in,” Zagumny said. “With ever-evolving advancements and capabilities, technology provides opportunities to see, experience and think differently. The Pyles’ generosity helps the College of Education instill that same sense of curiosity and exploration in future teachers.”

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