FETC Virtual Conference & Expo Keynote Presentation: October 22, 2009

October 22, 2009
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. EST



Calvin Baker
Superintendent, Vail School District
Vail, Arizona

Unleashing Teacher Creativity and Effective Instruction in the Digital World

School district responses to the accountability movement have caused many teachers to feel like test preparation robots. Google the words “quit teaching, NCLB” and be flooded with the evidence. It doesn’t have to be that way. Learn how the Vail School District is using the tools of the digital world to promote and enable the best elements of teaching: professionalism, creativity, passion and relationships.


Calvin Baker is the superintendent of the Vail School District in Vail, Arizona. For the third straight year all regular elementary, middle, and high schools in the Vail District are rated as “Excelling” by the Arizona Department of Education. The rating is the highest of six possible rating levels and is based on student test scores, graduation rates, and other performance indicators.

The District is a recognized leader in areas such as standards-based instruction, Response to Intervention, and the use of technology. Calvin and/or his staff have presented on these issues at conferences across the United States, as well as Europe and Jamaica.

In 2005, the District was the first to open a school fully utilizing digital instructional material — substituting laptops for textbooks. The District has also implemented a system, called “Beyond Textbooks,” that puts calendared instructional standards in a digital format. The standards are then electronically linked directly to digital instructional resources that teachers can use, share, and develop. This year the District began a limited effort to provide other districts in Arizona access and use of Beyond Textbooks. Thus far, twelve other school districts have joined.

Calvin has been the superintendent in Vail for 21 years. During his tenure, student enrollment has grown from 500 students in one school to over 10,000 students in sixteen regular and charter schools. Calvin also has ten years of experience as a principal and in that role has served at all three levels: high, middle, and elementary school. Almost all of his principal experience occurred in small Native American communities in Northern Alaska.

Calvin is active in community and educational organizations. He is currently the president-elect of the Arizona School Administrator’s Association and past-president of that organization’s superintendents division.