As he answered the phone in his new office at the Burbank Unified headquarters on Thursday afternoon, Robyn Anders responded as he has so often.
“Hello, this Robyn Anders, assistant principal at Burroughs High [School],” he said.
Anders could not simply press control-alt-delete to seven years of experience as a school-site administrator in less than seven days.
“It’s going to take a while,” Anders said with chuckle, “but I’m ready for the change.”
Anders was close to finishing his first week as the district’s new coordinator of instructional technology, a position that whisked him away from Burroughs, but filled a key vacancy in the district.
While Anders said he wasn’t thrilled about spending time away from students and teachers, he’s ecstatic about the chance to enact policies that could ultimately affect and help people.
“I’ll have a little more rewarding opportunity to see my work playing out in the classroom.”
“I’ll have a little more rewarding opportunity to see my work playing out in the classroom,” he said.
Anders takes over for Bob Martin, who left the district, and inherits a wide spectrum of responsibilities.
Teachers wanting to play a YouTube clip using the district’s Wi-Fi will need to check in with Anders. He will also address issues regarding student and teacher email accounts and take care of troubleshooting and software issues, in general.
Anders’ most useful assignment, however, may be simply explaining software updates to less technically and digitally savvy teachers, students and parents.
“One of my positions is being a liaison as far as putting things into layman’s terms for the community,” he said.
Prior to his new assignment, Anders spent time not only at Burroughs, but also at Luther Burbank Middle School.
While his move surprised some, Anders’ appointment follows a natural trajectory for the one-time music teacher in rural Iowa.
At Luther Burbank, Anders championed ways to improve communication between the school and parents through the use of apps.
In 2017, Anders wrote his doctoral dissertation at USC about technology at the secondary-school level, which included teacher self-efficacy in the implementation process.
“The utilization of technology is an area of growth that I saw in school districts and in education, in general,” Anders said. “In the future, we will need to have this kind of knowledge to innovate and be a change agent at a district level.”
His knowledge of technology made Anders a star candidate, according to Burbank Unified Supt. Matt Hill, who took part in the final round of interviews in the hiring process.
“He stood out very strongly because he has experience at the site level, as a teacher, as an administrator and focused his doctorate on technology,” Hill said. “He is an ideal person for this position.”
While it’s easy to classify Anders as a tech guy, his loss at Burroughs will extend beyond the computer screen, according to his former boss.
“He always tried to engage the students and make things fun and make them see the lighter side of things,” Burroughs High principal Deborah Madrigal said.
“The kids always enjoyed when he was around, and he will certainly be missed,” she added.