Jerry Greig got involved with the Greater Lafayette Chamber in 2002 via an appointment by then-chairman Barry Berthelot, who had big plans for the Fugro Chance CIO. The chamber had just initiated a partnership of sorts with the Lafayette schools system, and the “Education Chamber” (a handle it coined that would stick) began an initiative that involved peer review teams. Greig was called on to chair the Technology PRT, with Donna Landry heading the HR team and Mary Jane Bauer the Teacher Outreach Survey. After that initial year, Greig ran for a three-year term on the chamber board and served on the Executive Committee, chairing the finance division. He was approached last year about returning to the board as chair-elect, which put him in line to take over as chairman this year. For our annual technology issue, ABiz discusses the tech challenges facing the school system and what drives Greig to stay involved.
It’s common knowledge that you are an advocate for public education, and now you’re being dubbed the “technology chairman” by some in the chamber. It seems a natural extension of your work as CIO at Fugro Chance and likely the reason Barry called on you to head the first tech peer review team.
That background has helped tremendously. Our first report to the superintendent, board and community was presented on Sept. 9, 2002, precisely 10 years ago. In addition to the first-class team (incidentally, three members of this year’s Technology PRT, Steve Landry, Doug Menefee, and Max Hoyt, are returning from that group of 10 years ago), we also capitalized on the NetDays movement sweeping the country at that time, whereby the chamber leadership and community technologists enabled parents to “network” (Internet-enable) their students’ classrooms. This was a genuine sweat-equity project for the community to jump into, and over several weekends we wired every classroom in nine LPSS schools. In fact, Doug Menefee was the project leader of our NetDays. When Steve Landry, Doug and I were at Plantation Elementary Monday for a photo-shoot with Robin May (see related cover story), we noted that much of our NetDays handiwork from 2002 is still being used there today, 10 years later!
Your father was a band director at Lafayette High and your wife is an elementary school teacher. How much does that fuel this passion you have for our kids and their education?
My father and mother were both career public school educators. My dad was the band director at Lafayette High from 1955-1970 and then transitioned to administration. My mom was lower profile, but I am confident no less influential on many students’ lives. She taught language arts, English and French. My wife Nancy teaches 3rd grade at Katherine Drexel Elementary and has been there for over 20 years. And my daughter and son-in-law are teachers/coaches in Calcasieu Parish public schools. I couldn’t help but be inspired by observing their careers.
If you could snap your fingers and make one tech initiative happen for LPSS tomorrow what would it be?
Technology is but a tool. The real transformation needs to occur in each LPSS classroom, where our teachers learn how to maximize the use of instructional technology to reach 21st century students. It’s a transition from how we were taught by a lecturing teacher, what I’ve learned is called the “sage on a stage” method, to a newer hybrid participatory education model, where the teacher intersperses lecture with engagement, frequently becoming the “guide on the side.” My snap your finger moment would be to provide every LPSS educator with the time and professional development to make that transition, in the process learning how to incorporate instructional technology, where appropriate, into their lesson plans.
When you turn the reins over to Rob Eddy in January, what will you say you accomplished in terms of advancing technology in our schools and community?
GLCC is no longer driven by a chairman’s agenda but by a chamber agenda. Our goals and agendas are multi-year, multi-faceted and collaborative on many fronts, and driven by our membership. Upon returning to the board last year, it was evident that the chamber’s role as a LaPESC charter member was key to our effectiveness in education. The chamber and business community have a self-serving interest in the success of K12 education: Our membership needs an educated and trainable workforce. Regarding the re-engagement in technology in our schools this year, that was serendipity. The chamber committed to Dr. Pat Cooper in February to help in whatever area he felt appropriate. After his initial assessment, Cooper came to us and asked specifically that our first PRT be in technology. We know how to do a tech PRT, but if he had asked us to mobilize an HR or financial or transportation or facilities PRT we would be doing that instead. We probably won’t be complete with the PRT until Q1 2013, which will be into Rob Eddy’s term as chair. But just as the chamber’s involvement with the Comprehensive Plan began back in 2006, many of our initiatives transcend a single chairman’s term. Without knowing the outcome of the tech PRT’s findings and recommendations, it would be my hope that the superintendent, school board and community give the recommendations serious consideration for implementation. Knowing Rob Eddy, I am confident he will advocate for the advancement of the tech PRT’s recommendations. Probably the biggest surprise, in a positive way, has been the great work of our innovation division (co-chaired by George Graham and Gerd Wuestemann) in launching INNOV8 this past April. It was a huge first-year success.
Shifting gears from public education to business, which we know go hand-in-hand, tell me about the transition when Fugro Chance bought John Chance two decades ago. Was it a big adjustment for you?
It’s interesting that you ask this question, as we are celebrating at our offices the 50th Anniversary of Fugro (founded in Leidschendam, The Netherlands in 1962). In the fall of 1991, Fugro acquired John E. Chance & Associates, which at the time was a global leader in land and marine surveying. I had just joined the company in April 1991 as IT manager, and was aware of the fact that the Chance family was seeking at least a minority partner. While I can’t speak for others, my personal opinion is that Fugro acquired Chance because it was very successful in its own right. Changes over the last 21 years have been gradual, and have enabled us to become part of a very successful publicly traded (NYSE Euronext Exchange) company with greater financial resources, a more diverse suite of business lines and talented colleagues to collaborate with globally.