By David Fong
TROY — When Bill Hewitt began his teaching career in Troy, he still did most of his word processing on a typewriter, the only thing he used a telephone for was to call other people and the most technologically advanced form of communication was the fax machine.
All of that has changed in Hewitt’s 24 years teaching within the Troy City Schools system, and he’s been at the forefront of the technological revolution as the district has moved to integrate the latest advances into the classroom.
“When I first started teaching here in 1992, it was before Windows 95 and it was before anyone really knew what the Internet was,” said Hewitt, a third grade teacher at Forest Elementary School and the unofficial technology guru for all of Troy’s elementary schools. “Many of the schools only had a few computers in the school and all of the programming was very basic and very simple.
“When Microsoft was first offered, I took a role as the district trainer because I love teaching and I have a passion for sharing. I love to see how something works. I was teaching the teachers. I lot of it was very basic at first — ‘This is a word processor. This is a mouse.’”
As the technology in the classrooms continued to grow and expand, so too did Hewitt’s role within the district. While he’s never officially held a technology title, he has been a frontrunner in helping both teachers and students within the district incorporate technology and computer programs into their daily lessons.
He’s developed an entire website, mrhewitt.net, that can be used to teach elementary school children lessons in various subjects, with a particular focus on math. Not only is the website accessible to school children within the Troy district, but it is available worldwide to anyone who wants to utilize it.
“About 10 years ago, I got the idea that I’d like to try my own programming,” Hewitt said. “So I taught myself how to program in Flash. At the time, there was nothing on the Internet like it. They did have education programs, but they were not practical in the classroom.
“At first, I was just using it in my own classroom, but I guess somebody at another school saw it and word started spreading from parent to parent. I remember I was at a field trip at Hook (Elementary School) and some kids at Hook saw me and said, ‘There’s Mr. Hewitt!’ I didn’t realize I had become and instant celebrity.”
In addition to utilizing a form of media most children are familiar with, Hewitt said there’s another advantage to incorporating technology into the classroom.
“One of the reasons this is so important is that all of the state testing takes place online now,” Hewitt said. “None of the state testing uses pencil and paper anymore.”
As much as Hewitt loves technology, however, teaching remains his first love and is the reason the West Carrollton High School and Ohio University graduate got into the profession in the first place.
“Teaching is still my No. 1 passion,” he said. “Technology is a tool I use to do a better job of teaching.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong