A Special Salute to Melissa Virguez
(A Senior at Coral Gables Senior High School
and Words of Welcome)

Robert B. Ingram, Ph.D.

(at the District Technical Conference)

Good morning, I have the pleasure of joining in a special salute to Melissa Verguez, whose principal describes her as diligent, dedicated and artistic. Melissa is a student who is focused and who impresses her teachers and administrators. Her sponsoring teacher praises her intelligence and the outstanding quality of her work. He applauds Melissa's efforts to achieve as a graphic artist and details the contributions she has made to numerous class projects.

Melissa created all of the major graphics for a multimedia textbook entitled, Slavery in the Western Hemisphere: British America and the United States. In addition, Melissa played a key role in the publication of an article on African-American History through the Arts. Both projects are available on the Internet for students throughout the world to share.

Clearly, Melissa is a deserving applicant. She is already using technology as a tool in her studies. It is with great pleasure that I present the Ana Gutierrez Mackay Technology Scholarship to Melisa Virguez. Let us all join together in a special salute for Melissa Virguez.

Words of welcome

Good morning again! Thank your for providing me a space in the program to offer a few words of welcome on behalf of the Miami-Dade County School Board, Dr. Solomon Stinson, Chair, on this second day of the 1999 Instructional Technology Conference of Miami Dade county Public Schools. "Isn't it strange, that Kings and Queens and clowns that caper in sawdust rings, and common people like you and me are builders of eternity. Each is given a bag of tools, a shapeless mass and a book of rules and each must build on life is flown a stumbling block or a stepping stone."

This fantastic conference is filled with people who are building "stepping stones," people who are committed to using technology to power student achievement and streamline school operations.

Many of you had the opportunity to attend a few of the sessions yesterday as well as witness the latest technology that is on the market today.

I must confess that I have been reminiscing about the past and the way technology is revolutionizing the way we will teach in the future.

When I reflect on the past, I'm reminded that this country has a history of technological advance. We were the first to fly an airplane, the first to land on the moon, and the first to send a space probe to Neptune & beyond. I'm also reminded, as Chris Master noted, of the cynics.

When I think of the technology cynics I am reminded of some interesting perceptions of years past.

Western Union Internal memo 1876 Noted: "This telephone has too many short comings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."

Charles H. Duell, U.S. Commissioners of Patents said in1899, "Everything that can be invented has been invented." Dr. Lee, Dr. forest, Inventor of the Audio tube and father of Radio, stated on Feb 25, 1967 "Man will never reach the moon - regardless of all future scientific advances." and Kenneth Olsen, President and founder of digital equipment corporation, made this unbelievable comment in1977, "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."

During this two-day event, you'll be shown enough technology to become skeptics, you'll be shown new techniques and tips to help students become lifelong readers, become successful in mathematics and science, and prepare for state exams. In my opinion - all are good, however, no amount of glittering technology will raise us to new heights if we lose our moral focus in the process.

Our technological marvels must not result in a poverty of the spirit, we must guard against becoming smaller morally - as we become larger technologically.

Some of you may have read a Miami Herald article published last week about a new Miami-Dade schools program where migrant students are using computers to do school assignments and to keep in touch with their teachers while moving from camp to camp with their families.

This is but one example of not only Technological Advancement, but of our Miami-Dade County Schools' moral commitment to assure that no student is left behind.

I'm particularly PROUD of our Administrators, our Teachers and our Staff who work to give our students the world

I won't keep you any longer except to say we have an incredible technological tool at our disposal. Let us not become cynics. Let's take advantage of it!

And let us also realize that schools with productive computer mechanisms and people with unproductive callous minds clash in ways that create a distortion in the technological revolution - that instead of strengthening education helps to frustrate those we must educate.

What I'm trying to get over is this, when our technology is woven into an intricate computerized mechanism on the inside of our schools and our students are involved by the insidious "trench-coat anti-social behavior" that pushes them to the outer edge of our schools, we become technologically "bank rolled - but morally bankrupt."

Too often we are told that there is nothing much we can do about the situation.

But I believe that together we can accomplish great things.

After all, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us "We are tied together in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

So let us integrate technological resources with serious invigorating attention to making sure that students who are hungry are fed, students who come to school suffering from abuse and neglect are attended to and students who have lost confidence or have no confidence in their ability to achieve are taught with renewed vigor.

This is a great moment for us ----and we must remember these words from behind the alter of Eternity:

"We only have one minute,
Sixty seconds in it,
It's forced upon us,
We can't refuse it,
We didn't seek it,
We didn't choose it,
But its up to us to use it,
Give account if we abuse it,
It's a tiny little minute,
But eternity is in it."

In this minute, in this eternity we must assure that when future generations look back upon these troubled filled days that we are passing through - they will see a people not only who conquered technology, but a people who did not neglect the Disenchanted, Disadvantaged and the Disinherited among us.

This is our charge. This is our responsibility!

Thank you for having me here today. Enjoy the rest of the conference.

To contact Dr. Ingram, please call 305-995-1340 or e-mail