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Toby Coleman is a man on the move.
As director of personalized learning and innovative programming for the Waterloo Central School District, Coleman moves from building to building each day helping staff and students learn and master new things.
Coleman, who is in his third year in his role, began his career in Waterloo as a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at LaFayette Intermediate School and spent two years as a teacher on special assignment before moving into his current position.
He was recently recognized as an unsung hero for his work streaming the holiday concerts.
A graduate of North Rose-Wolcott High School, Coleman earned his Bachelor’s degree from Hobart College and Masters in Administration and Advanced Certification from SUNY-Oswego. He began playing soccer at age 5 and has coached in both the boys and girls soccer programs at Waterloo. Coleman has a dog named Fifa and enjoys being outside and cooking in his spare time.
Coleman took some time to discuss his job and the role that technology plays in learning. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 
You have a long job title, how do you describe what you do?
“Anything that deals with instructional technology and the implementation of instructional technology along with personalized learning strategies to help students with innovative learning. I also stay on top of technology to look for opportunities to bring industry-ready tools into the district to help students prepare for their futures. Across the board, we are not just trying to prepare kids for four-year schools, but also for the trades and to go straight into the workforce. I also help with the district website and am involved in several other committees.” 
What aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?
“Student success, especially kids finding that they can do more than they think they can and seeing that reaction or surprise when they are successful at doing something that they did not think they could do.
“I am an on-the-go person, so the diversity of this job is nice. I can work with a kindergartner one hour and then come back to the high school and work with older students.”
What are some hidden gems in the Waterloo Central School District?
“If you look at the big picture, the hidden gem could be the support that we get from the administration and the school board to try new things. We are not stuck in old ways, we try new things that include technology to engage our students. Take our drone course, for example, nobody around us has that. We are building a continuum of K-12 innovation across the district. Our technology itself is sometimes ahead in terms of the technology and devices that we use.”
You once bought a 3D printer at a Black Friday sale before starting a 3D printing club for fifth graders. Where do you get your ideas for new technology to recommend and how do you become familiar with it?
“I am a pretty self-taught individual, so when I see something that is new or innovative I will test it out before I bring it to the students to get feedback before we roll it out.” 
How has technology evolved during your teaching career? 
“Exponentially. When I started we had computer labs before moving to computer carts that were shared. Eventually, we moved to 1-to-1 devices and once we got into 1-to-1 devices it just exploded from there. We are starting to teach technology pieces to younger students, so we have to continue to move forward quicker so that we can stay ahead. We want kids to continue to grow with the technology.” 
How are you able to connect with so many students?
“Our goal in the District is to engage all of our kids. Growing up I was not an ‘A’ student, I was a pretty average kid and I know how that feels. My mom also taught for 40 years, so I was able to learn from her how important it is to see all kids engaged in their education. Ultimately, we want students to be leaders of their own learning and the only way for that to happen is for them to be engaged.”