EdTech Hero: Janice Mertes builds a plan for Wisconsin to become 'Future Ready'


In advocating for the Future Ready Schools initiative and pushing for digital learning plans, Janice Mertes “has been a ‘hero’ in so many ways” to students and educators across Wisconsin, one of her colleagues told EdScoop.

As the assistant director of instructional media and technology at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Mertes played a critical role in the development of the Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan, which was presented to the public in December 2016.

Lois Alt, an educational consultant who worked with Mertes on the plan, called Mertes a “visionary” after witnessing how effectively she collaborated with other states and remained focused on supporting student learning.

The Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan incorporates many elements of the national Future Ready framework, advocating for educational technology and constructing a path for students as they prepare for college and their eventual careers.

And, in an effort to meet the goals and priorities laid out in the new plan, Mertes has championed initiatives relating to digital citizenship, data privacy, professional development and broadband access in rural schools.

“[Mertes] has now provided resources that will enable our regional representatives to take the reins with collaborative leadership strategies in order to localize projects that can meet the Future Ready and Digital Learning Plan goals,” Alt said.

In addition to forming the digital learning plan, Mertes organized a regional summit for Wisconsin school districts and created a multi-year strategy to communicate the new framework to stakeholders — including administrators, teachers, technology leaders and members of the community, Alt said.

“Janice has demonstrated over and over again her ability to connect the dots so that new initiatives are not stand-alone projects but ongoing, appropriate, and sustainable efforts that will lead to better educational opportunities for all students in Wisconsin and across our nation,” Alt said.

Read more from EdScoop’s series “EdTech Heroes: 25 State Leaders Making a Difference.”