TCEA Ragland

Hudson ISD Instructional Technology Specialist Joan Ragland poses for a photo after receiving the 2020 Texas Computer Education Association Lifetime Achievement for the Advancement of Technology in Education Award. From left are Emily Meisel, high school media specialist; Dawn Young, middle school media specialist; Ragland; Jonah Juarez, district technician; and Joshua Smith, technology director.

Hudson ISD Instructional Technology Specialist Joan Ragland has received the 2020 Texas Computer Education Association Lifetime Achievement for the Advancement of Technology in Education Award.

“It was an honor to have been nominated by Hudson, but to actually win the prestigious award is beyond words,” she said.

Ragland has been influential in obtaining competitive grants for Hudson ISD over the past 10 years totaling more than $2 million and allowing the district to fund programs like the middle school hydroponics lab, the middle and high school aviation program, middle/elementary/high school robotics programs and more.

“This is not an individual award,” Ragland said. “It really belongs to the district — board members, administrators, fellow teachers, students and community — all stakeholders must have a buy-in to achieve a mindset that moves the district forward, enables it to take risks and to try new ideas and programs.”

She said she feels privileged to work in a district that always strives to put student success as a top priority and to have been able to work under devoted superintendents like William Petty, Joe Smith, Mary Ann Whitekar and Donny Webb.

Ragland has been teaching since 1971 with 41 years at Hudson ISD and a majority as a science teacher winning several awards including the Texas Medical Association Award for Excellence.

Many things have changed in the classroom since her first day, from colored chalk to automatic filmstrip/tape players to today’s integrated technology of laptops, interactive whiteboards and tablets, Ragland said.

“I love free stuff,” Ragland said. “Before the turn of the century, I was invited to participate in a pilot program at Hudson Middle School and in exchange, I would receive a laptop, scanner and printer for my classroom.”

After that, Ragland was hooked. She said she immediately realized the benefits technology can add to a classroom and was 100% committed to integrating technology at Hudson ISD. In 1998, she wrote one of her first grants to get laptops for the middle school science classes.

Webb said it was his pleasure to recommend Ragland as the recipient for the Lifetime Achievement for the Advancement of Technology in Education award.

“Joan is the most dedicated teacher to the profession that I have ever met and had the privilege to work with,” Webb said. “Hudson ISD would be at a loss without Joan Ragland. So much of our success is attributed to this most outstanding educator.”

Being a teacher means having the opportunity to touch the future, Ragland said. Teachers provide students with the foundations upon which they can build an understanding of concepts and principals, but that is only the beginning.

“A teacher must take the next step and challenge students to reach their maximum potential, to explore new pathways, to be creative and innovative, to think outside the box, to learn to work cooperatively and collaboratively with others,” she said. “Being a teacher is a privilege and an honor. The responsibilities that go with it should never be taken lightly.”

All these skills that teachers wish to develop in students are skills that one must develop in themselves as life-long learners, Ragland said.

“I cannot imagine the day that I will not get up and come to school,” Ragland said.

Network Director Robert Inman said if Ragland does one day retire, Hudson ISD is closing down, and IT Administrative Assistant Jennifer Brazil said Ragland is the heart of Hudson ISD and there is no one like her anywhere.

“Mrs. Ragland is the best you can get, and I shudder to think where we’d be as a district without her years of total devotion to the students of this district,” technology director Josh Smith said.

Grace Juarez’s email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.