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Murray Journal

Education innovator deShazo boosts student’s success with technology

Nov 21, 2018 04:02PM ● By Julie Slama

Murray High School’s Assistant Principal Laura deShazo recently was named the Women Tech Council’s education innovator and honored as a recipient of the Women Tech Awards. (Photo courtesy of Murray School District)

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

Last year, two South Jordan Middle School ninth-graders were state champions of the recent Microsoft Office Specialist certification exams. Three years ago, a Hillcrest High freshman brought home certifications in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

What these — and about 75,000 students across the state since 2012 — don’t realize is that the effort to bring certifications into the classroom stemmed from Murray High School’s assistant principal, Laura deShazo, when she previously had worked for the Utah State Board of Education as a career and technical education coordinator. Thanks to deShazo’s efforts, Utah has the highest ratio nationally of Microsoft certifications in the past five years.

Recently, deShazo was named the Women Tech Council’s education innovator and honored as a recipient of the Women Tech Awards. Several other technology leaders were recognized as well.

“It’s humbling to receive this award, but I’m doing it to recognize all the teachers who are raising the bar in Utah,” she said. “By offering students the chance to achieve these certifications, our students are able to walk out of the doors with more than a diploma.”

The certifications, deShazo said, cost more than $100 a piece and are possible with a $500,000 grant from the state legislature.

That isn’t the only technology focus deShazo has had a part of recently. She helped with the Murray School District’s effort to bring a 1:1 technology to student ratio. At Murray High, students have checked out a Chromebook for the school year for their online curriculum, instruction and homework.

“It enables equity and access for all our students,” she said. “It was amazingly easy to implement, and we’ve received positive feedback from both our students and teachers. Our school has Wi-Fi, but now we’re looking into ensuring the entire Murray community has Wi-Fi.”

Even though her office is in administration, deShazo keeps tabs on students.

“I’m in the classroom every day and it’s truly amazing what the teachers are doing and how technology is allowing students to do astonishing things,” she said.

She also is working with administration and office staffs to transition into full technology and eliminate papers and file drawers.

“We can access information at our fingers and be able to provide it more effectively and efficiently,” deShazo said.

While deShazo has her trophy — a pressure gauge welded to a wrench, bolts and nuts to represent a figure holding a disc acknowledging the Women Tech award — she knows the heart of the award belongs to those she has motivated to use technology to further education.

In her impromptu thank-you for the award, she said she wanted to illustrate how technology makes a difference in education.

“It’s amazing how technology and teachers can help students make gains in the classroom and after they graduate, how they are more prepared in our world for college, technical training or work,” she said.

Cydni Tetro, Women Tech Council president and co-founder, said the awards bring the technology community together to honor and discuss how to increase the number of women in technology.

“By highlighting and promoting top talent in technology, these awards amplify the impact of women across the technology industry and accelerate the growth of the entire sector,” she said.

Since the launch of the awards 11 years ago, the national Women Tech Council has recognized more than 200 women.