Melissa P. Dodd speaks passionately about children and the importance of their education. That's not surprising, considering Dodd has a master's degree in education from Harvard University. Dodd opted not to teach, however, and instead chose to support teachers and students through technology. She worked as an educational technology administrator at Tufts University before moving in 2003 to the Boston Public Schools, which serve some 56,000 students. There she started as a technology strategic planner before becoming deputy CIO in 2006 and then CIO in October 2010. Here she shares her ideas on running a large school system's IT department.
What were the biggest challenges of your first year as CIO? I came into the position after the school year had started, so there were already a number of initiatives under way. I had to jump in and keep them going, so there was a huge learning curve. I had been working within the technology department, but to address [the learning curve], I did a lot of listening and asking questions, and that helped me ramp up as quickly as possible.
What are your priorities for your second year as CIO? For the second year, it's really being a partner with our academic team to reach its goals and prepare our students for college or career success. Within that, it's focusing on strengthening our data system, making sure the systems are integrated and seamless for the user, so they can quickly get access to the data they need to support their job. It's making sure the right architecture is in place to support instructional improvement in the classroom through data. That's a key goal for the district.