David Miyashiro wants to give back to Pittsburgh — even though he’s never lived here. As superintendent of Cajon Valley Union School District near San Diego, California, and in his previous positions as educator and school leader, he has been changing the way education is practiced — and he believes Pittsburgh is at the forefront.
So when the Pittsburgh Technology Council invited him to present the keynote at the Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference (called TRETC by most and pronounced TRET-see) on Monday, Jan. 16, Miyashiro jumped at the chance to fly to Pittsburgh for the conference.
“Pittsburgh school districts were part of the inspiration for our concepts,” Miyashiro says. “We’ve been working with the Council and the Grable Foundation since 2016, when we toured three of Pittsburgh’s districts [South Fayette, Avonworth and Elizabeth Forward] in the League of Innovative Schools to rethink success for students.”
He also gives credit to Pittsburgh’s Remake Learning for allowing him to learn “from their playbook.”
Miyashiro is looking to change policy around public education, a concept he calls “World of Work.” In World of Work, he changes the goalposts related to education outcomes. Instead of dwelling on test scores, Miyashiro believes the goal should be to introduce students early to concepts that result in gainful employment and happiness.
In districts that adopt World of Work concepts, like his own in El Cajon, children as young as kindergarten explore careers; by the time they’re in eighth grade, they have been exposed to 60 different career options.
“Kids cannot aspire to careers they don’t even know exist — like life sciences, civil engineering and public service. The traditional K-12 system stigmatizes skilled labor, military service, public service — anything that doesn’t align with a college degree. We’re trying to show K-12 we have to think differently about success and preparation.”
TRETC is about sharing and learning with trailblazers and innovators, which appeals so much to Miyashiro that he decided to bring 12 colleagues from California to learn at and share in the event.
According to Marie Pelloni, who’s organizing the event for the Pittsburgh Technology Council, this year’s TRETC includes more 300 educators from 51 different school districts in Allegheny and 13 surrounding counties.
Two years ago, TRETC was intentionally virtual due to Covid and last year, a large winter storm convinced her to run it virtually again at the last minute. So this is the first face-to-face TRETC gathering in three years.
The conference includes 31 sessions, seven 90-minute workshops, a student pitch competition, and awards for one educator, one education leader and one nonprofit friend of education — in addition to opportunities for educators to network, share ideas and learn from one another.
It’s fitting that TRETC 2023 happens on Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. In the words of Dr. King, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”