ILTPP Announces Ambassador Program

Amanda Bruns
Amanda Bruns Member Engagement Manager | Learning Technology Center

The Illinois Learning Technology Purchasing Program (ILTPP) is proud to announce its new Ambassador program and its first class of ILTPP Ambassadors.

Representing districts from across Illinois, the Ambassador program will generate insights and advocacy that’ll help connect more K-12 districts with cooperative purchasing’s full power.

“It’s a natural step forward,” says Amanda Burns, ILTPP Member Engagement Manager. “As we work to connect with new districts and deepen our relationship with current members, we need enthusiastic voices to share how cooperative purchasing has impacted their students. Our Ambassadors will be that voice, and we can’t wait to hear what they have to say.”

Bringing Innovative Edtech Minds Together

The ILTPP Ambassador program is focused on bringing together edtech pacemakers from around the state and putting their shared wisdom into action. In turn, it empowers K-12 educators and technology leaders to play a central role in influencing the edtech landscape, both in and beyond their district.

In addition to championing the program’s benefits, Ambassadors contribute their insights to ILTPP publications, collaborate with fellow tech leaders, and provide valuable feedback that shapes ILTPP’s new and ongoing initiatives.

With representatives from Little Egypt, the Quad Cities, and many districts in between, the Ambassador program also ensures that ILTPP’s programs and services continue to meet all Illinois schools’ evolving needs.

Join us in congratulating and welcoming these Ambassadors as they step into their new roles:

2024 ILTPP Ambassadors

Justin Morgan

Network Administrator | Trico CUSD 176

Justin has dedicated over a decade to educational technology leadership in his time at Trico CUSD 176. There, he has led countless technology initiatives and worked in his local community to advance tech-centered advancements, including a K-2 tablet pilot program and a community hotspots program.

He says, “I’m excited to work with ILTPP as an ambassador to continue my passion for innovative problem-solving.”

Brayden Matsko

IT Coordinator | St. Michael The Archangel School (Streator)

With his recent student experience, Brayden brings a unique perspective to the Ambassador program that adds focus to IT’s impact on current learners.

In his current role, Brayden has helped develop a custom database and backend processing system, as well as facilitated an SIS change, implemented a new rostering and student authentication system, and completed a variety of procedural improvements that have made his IT team more efficient.

Felicia Lee

District Coordinator, Technology Integration | Proviso Township HSD 209

With a diverse educational background, Felicia has served as a classroom teacher, adjunct college professor, and Tech Prep Director. In these roles, she has led projects focused on professional development in technology, fostering collaboration across disciplines, and training support staff.

She says, “I am driven to become an ILTPP ambassador by my passion for enhancing educational initiatives and standards. My hands-on approach and dedication to contributing actively through various platforms align with my enthusiasm to make a positive impact in this role.”

Jill Badalamenti

Technology Coordinator | Carlinville CUSD 1

A new resident to Illinois, Jill has been educating youngsters for 20 years mostly in Missouri. She is passionate about edtech and pushing the boundaries of traditional education.

As an Ambassador, she’s most looking forward to meeting other edtech enthusiasts and making connections outside of her school district community.

Butch Wilson

Director of Instructional Technology | Mt. Vernon Township High School

A mainstay of Illinois’ edtech community, Butch has been an edtech leader and advocate for 20+ years. As part of the former Learning Technology Centers, Butch guided and supported 200+ schools as they developed their educational technology environment.

More recently, he has provided technology support and development for the Illinois State Board of Education’s Statewide Assessments programs.

Butch believes that “education tools should be accessible and affordable for all of us.” For that reason, he’s been a “grateful promoter” of ILTPP since 2003.

Dr. Todd Dugan

Superintendent | Bunker Hill CUSD 8

During his time as superintendent, Dr. Dugan has made it his mission to reimagine and redefine rural educational leadership to reflect modern technology’s challenges and opportunities. He has been recognized by several state and national organizations, including as the 2017 Tech & Learning Leader of the Year and the 2018 Illinois State University EAF Superintendent of the Year.

As an Ambassador, Dr. Dugan wants to level the playing field in rural areas by harnessing technology’s promise to provide students with cutting-edge learning opportunities.

Dr. Cheri Bridge

Director of Technology | Zion-Benton Township HSD 126

In both her local and national work, Dr. Cheri Bridge has shown a deep passion for leveraging educational technology to foster engaging and effective learning environments. Prior to her current role, she contributed to the NSA-funded GenCyber cybersecurity curriculum and spearheaded the development of an edtech solution aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

With over 16 years of experience in instructional design and curriculum development, she brings a wealth of expertise in driving strategic improvements within school districts to the Ambassador team. As an Ambassador, she seeks to empower educators and students alike through the integration of innovative technologies into teaching and learning practices.

Craig Reid

Director of Technology | Moline-Coal Valley CUSD 40

Craig has worked in education his entire career, starting as a support technician before moving into a leadership role. During his tenure as Director of Technology, he has led numerous initiatives to keep up with his district’s evolving technology landscape, as well as co-chaired a technology committee composed of teachers, administrators, and support staff.

When it comes to our statewide edtech community, Craig believes that more collective efforts are needed to address common issues. As an Ambassador, he wants to work closely with his counterparts in other districts and harness their expertise to uncover innovative, cost-effective solutions that all districts can benefit from.

Chemventory: Safe & Accurate Chemical Inventory Made Easy

All-in-One Chemical Inventory

A safe lab starts with the proper identification, storage, and record-keeping of all your chemicals— having the right amount on hand can make or break a lab experience. Chemventory helps you solve both of these challenges, providing you with the reassurance that your chemical inventory is properly accounted for and ready for whatever lab comes next. Keep track of all your chemicals in one central database. Print labels with essential safety information so your storeroom is organized and accessible.

With any purchase from FLINN, ILTPP/AEPA members receive
• 10% off
• Free Chemventory
• Free Student Lab Safety
• Free Teacher Lab Safety and
• Free shipping for orders over $100.

Chemventory is part of PAVO, Flinn’s award-winning gateway to standards-aligned science that empowers teachers and engages students with dynamic digital content paired with comprehensive hands-on kits.

Place a direct PO order and get Chemventory free for the first year. In addition, receive the teacher and student lab safety for FREE, too. Code: AEPACHEM. Offer expires September 30, 2024.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Rebecca Wilson
Account Manager

Office 365 A1 Plus for education will retire on August 1, 2024

Why is Office 365 A1 Plus being retired?

Microsoft introduced Office 365 A1 Plus to schools in 2015 to ease the provisioning burden for IT in moving users to the cloud. While the intent was to help schools with their transition, it also introduced a level of complexity for our customers that led to many inadvertently becoming non-compliant. Today, Microsoft 365 A3 and A5 licenses are easier to provision, both addressing our customer requirements and removing the need for a transitional program. All existing Office 365 A1 Plus licenses will expire August 1, 2024.

Schools using Office 365 A1 Plus today have options

Schools with Microsoft A3 or A5

Schools who license Microsoft 365 A3 or A5 today can use their student use benefits to deploy A3 or A5 for students at a 40:1 student to faculty ratio. Learn your options for assigning licenses to users.

Schools can purchase additional licenses

Schools can purchase additional Microsoft 365 A3 or A5 licenses for faculty or staff currently not covered under another license. Compare which edition is right for your school.

Schools can leverage Office 365 A1

Schools can leverage Office 365 A1, a free subscription with access to online Office 365 web apps and collaboration and classroom tools.

Discover the benefits of Microsoft 365 A5

Microsoft 365 A5 is for institutions who want a single productivity, communications, and collaboration platform with the most advanced security for learning, teaching, and work. It provides AI-powered services to accelerate learning and productivity in a comprehensive suite that integrates advanced security, analytics tools, and unified communications.

Do you have more questions or need help with your Microsoft licensing? Contact our channel partners today.

John Buttita
CDW Education
Sales Manager

Christine McConnell
Senior Account Manager

How Students Are Able to Bypass School Filtering With Proxies (and Why It’s a Problem)

Students are a resourceful bunch so it should be no surprise that many have discovered ways to bypass school filtering systems. Before we explore the challenges this creates, let’s take a quick look at how students sometimes use proxy websites to bypass school filters.

How to Get Around School Content Filtering

The internet is a vast and ever-evolving landscape, and tech-savvy students can very easily locate detailed directions on how to get around school content filtering. A multitude of online resources, some hidden in plain sight, offer students step-by-step guides on “how to get around school filters.” These resources often point them towards proxy websites.

What Are Proxy Web Sites and Why Are They So Appealing?

Proxy websites act as a middleman between a student’s device and the internet. Imagine a student trying to reach a blocked website. Instead of connecting directly, the student connects to the proxy website first. The proxy website then fetches the content from the blocked website and relays it back to the student’s device, effectively masking their online activity. This allows students to potentially bypass school filters and access restricted content.

The problem with this approach is twofold. First, the world of proxy websites is constantly growing and evolving. New proxy sites pop up all the time, making it nearly impossible for traditional filtering technology to keep pace. This creates a frustrating game of cat-and-mouse for school IT departments. IT staff spend countless hours adding new proxy URLs to their blocklists, only to find students discovering new workarounds seemingly overnight. It’s a constant battle that consumes valuable IT resources and ultimately proves ineffective in large part because outdated list-based filtering technology is still used by the vast majority of IT Depts.

This cycle of blocking and unblocking is not only inefficient but also ineffective. Here’s why:

  • Wasted Resources: IT departments spend a significant amount of time and resources maintaining blocklists, diverting them from other critical tasks.

  • Ineffective Filtering: New proxy sites appear constantly, rendering traditional blocklists outdated almost as soon as they’re updated.

  • Potential CIPA Violations: Inadvertent access to inappropriate content through proxy sites can put a school district out of compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). CIPA requires schools to implement filtering and monitoring systems to protect students from online pornography and other harmful content.

  • Compromised Learning Environment: Distracting content accessed through proxies can hinder student focus and disrupt the effectiveness of digital learning environments.

The bottom line? Current filtering solutions simply can’t keep up with the ingenuity of students determined to bypass restrictions. This leaves schools in a precarious position, potentially jeopardizing student safety and maximizing the potential for misuse of school-issued devices.

A New Dawn in School Filtering: Introducing ProxyGuard™ by Deledao

Deledao, a leading innovator in education technology, understands the challenges schools face with traditional filtering solutions. That’s why we’ve revolutionized the game with the introduction of ProxyGuard™, a groundbreaking technology added to our award-winning, research-based real-time AI filtering product, ActiveScan™.

ProxyGuard™ is the first technology of its kind that automatically recognizes and blocks proxy websites. This eliminates the need for IT departments to manually maintain blocklists, freeing up valuable resources and ensuring a more efficient and effective filtering solution.

Here’s how ProxyGuard™ benefits schools:

  • Automated Proxy Detection: ProxyGuard™ utilizes cutting-edge AI to automatically identify and block proxy sites, stopping students before they can bypass filters.

  • Reduced IT Burden: IT staff are no longer bogged down by maintaining blocklists, allowing them to focus on more strategic initiatives.

  • Enhanced CIPA Compliance: By effectively blocking proxy access, ProxyGuard™ helps schools maintain CIPA compliance and safeguard student safety.

  • Maximized Technology Investment: ProxyGuard™ ensures school-issued devices are used for their intended purpose – learning – and not for accessing distractions or inappropriate content.

  • Improved Learning Environment: By eliminating distractions, ProxyGuard™ creates a more focused and productive learning environment for all students.

We understand that keeping students safe and focused online is a top priority. To help you see how ProxyGuard can transform your school’s content filtering and empower student success, we’d be happy to discuss it with you in more detail and provide a brief demonstration for both you and your IT team.

Let’s work together to streamline IT management, ensure CIPA compliance, and create a more productive learning environment for all. Contact Deledao to get started today!

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Deledao Education
Greg Richman
Director of Sales & Channel Partnerships

How Schools Can Increase Their Chances of Winning Federal Cybersecurity Funding

By Amy Passow Amy Passow is a business development manager for K–12 at CDW•G.

In the grand scheme of things, $200 million over the course of three years to address cybersecurity in K–12 doesn’t seem like much. However, that is what the Federal Communications Commission will offer as part of its Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program.

That said, this is a step up from what the FCC already provides through its E-rate program, whose cybersecurity coverage includes only basic firewalls and support services to configure them. The FCC admitted as much when they announced the program in November by noting in the Federal Register, “It is clear that the E-Rate program alone cannot fully address the K–12 schools’ and libraries’ cyber concerns and protect their broadband networks and data from cyber threats and attacks.”

This new program is a response to years of lobbying from K–12 groups for more federal funding to help stem the tide of cyberattacks facing K–12 schools. Additional funding through this program would help the FCC determine whether they should permanently fund advanced firewall services.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, in a statement describing the pilot program, said “ultimately, we want to learn from this effort, identify how to get the balance right and provide our federal, state and local government partners with actionable data about the most effective and coordinated way to address this growing problem.”

Flexible Furniture Gives Teachers and Students More Opportunities for Collaboration

Traditional libraries are out — and media centers are in — as a reflection of how modern students learn today.

By Erika Gimbel. Erika Gimbel is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in B2B technology innovation and educational technology.

This is not an old-fashioned library: In the Sebastian River High School Media Center, food and drink are allowed. So is chatting with friends and playing video games. The space is open and bright, with the school’s mascot shark emblazoned prominently throughout.

Officially opened in fall 2023, the new media center is a far cry from the old library space, which hadn’t been updated in 25 years.

“All the walls were painted pink. They used to call the school the pink prison,” laughs Kerri Wall, senior instructional technology administrator and data privacy compliance officer at the School District of Indian River County in Vero Beach, Fla.

And while the space may have been outdated, the bigger issue was that the old library did not fit with the school’s modern learning environment.

“We’re talking about a lot of books that weren’t even being checked out,” says Wall. “We really wanted to flip the script on what a media center space is.”

Like many school districts across the U.S., Indian River County has reimagined many of its learning spaces — from classrooms to former libraries — to keep pace with new technologies and the way students learn today.

An increasing body of research supports the conclusion that flexible learning spaces lead to better learning outcomes, including increased engagement with content and more positive interaction with peers.

“To prepare students for success in the 21st century, the ability to collaborate is essential,” says Patti Clark, chief academic officer at Lakeshore Learning Materials. “A trend I’m seeing everywhere is the transformation of school library spaces, which are becoming much more vibrant spaces for learning and collaborating, sometimes even developing into the hub of the school.”

Transforming traditional spaces takes planning, budget decisions and buy-in from school and community leaders. Here’s how a few schools took on the challenge.

DISCOVER: What does the modern library look like for K–12 students?

Unpacking science wonders with iSprowt class packs

Stephanie Higgs, Tennessee gifted educator, sees her fourth graders for only 30 minutes a few times a week – a time-crunch struggle many teachers can sympathize with. Higgs uses that limited time to build upon students’ abilities and interests, including science and technology, but keeping her students engaged can get challenging when it seems like they’ve already interacted with all the technology and DIY science out there.

When Higgs came across the iSprowt science packs in Pitsco’s catalog of offerings, she beelined to her student with an affinity for the sciences and let her choose which pack seemed best for the whole class. Talk about student choice and voice! The student looked over the options – with topics from fossils to natural disasters to the universe, she couldn’t go wrong – and ultimately chose Chemistry and Matter.


iSprowt’s phenomena-based elementary kits were written to bring real-world science to life. Creator Juliana Sherwood specifically designed the activities, authored their workbooks, and chose hands-on materials all in the name of her own children and their classmates who struggled to find the connection between science class and the world around them. In fact, each kit was created with NGSS requirements and educator needs as its guiding lights, ensuring full classroom utility.


When the Chemistry and Matter pack arrived in Higgs’s classroom this past winter, she quickly reviewed the teacher sheet and a student workbook, instantly identifying the first activity she wanted to do with her students: indoor snow, as they’d had a distinct lack of snow over the holiday break. All she needed to do was unpack the kits and locate a water source. When class started, her fourth graders paired up and got to work immediately, cracking open the workbooks and following the story and directions on their own.

“I was drawn to the activities because there’s nothing like it on Pinterest!” Higgs said. “But really, it was a novel and niche way to teach universal themes that I had wanted to touch on this semester anyway. I mean, engineering an indoor snowman to teach about change AND design? I would have never thought of that.”

Higgs also found that it was easy to break the workbooks into segments by activity – especially handy for her short class periods. “I was impressed that we could do an activity one day, and then come back to iSprowt a week later for the kids to remember where they left off. They just love the hands on, and I love the flexibility!”

Jennifer Stormer, an Ohio elementary STEM/math teacher, felt the same about her own pack. “I used the Renewable Energy kits in my third- and fourth-grade classes as a supplement to my energy curriculum. They aligned perfectly with it! The ease of using them and the engaging student activities were the best part of it all. Everything was in the kits, and the books were very well written with explanations as to how to implement the materials. I honestly only spent a couple of minutes overviewing each lesson prior to implementing them.”

Both teachers agreed that while they used iSprowt as a supplement or extension to the students’ core science content, the kits could be used stand-alone for a mini unit or an after-school club.

“I still have a few activities for us to go through,” Higgs said, “but I’m already wanting another pack topic! The students loved it that much. It’s so awesome to see them have fun while learning.”

Shop iSprowt classroom packs at


Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Regina Williams
Great Lakes Education Advisor
800-835-0686 x

Learn More About Pitsco Education
Pitsco Education Blog

How JS Morton empowered teachers with authentic common assessments and real-time results





CLASSROOM USE CASE: Common Assessment


A suburban high school district aims to bring authentic, standards-aligned common assessments to students. The community of educators at JS Morton High School District 201 in Illinois is a highly engaged group. They offer a rich variety of classes to students, with an emphasis on opportunities for both college and career preparedness. And with a student population of over 70% current and former English learners (EL), inclusive and accessible teaching strategies play a significant role in daily instruction. Director of Innovation and Accountability, Samantha Skubal, focuses on helping teachers incorporate technology and data to drive positive learning outcomes. The district prioritizes common assessments to ensure all students are progressing throughout the year, and give teachers actionable data to make informed instructional decisions.

But the common assessment program the district had been using felt antiquated and unhelpful. Students were confined to rigid assessments with one-size-fits-all question types and feedback tools. Teachers were looking for a flexible, engaging platform that enabled them to assess students through more inclusive methods that would meet those students—who come with a variety of learning needs and preferences—where they are. When educators asked repeatedly for Formative as a replacement for their current assessment platform, Ms. Skubal couldn’t ignore their enthusiasm.


Are Your Students With IEPs Future Ready?

The pursuit of educational equity remains at the heart of every educator’s mission. To ensure all students, irrespective of their backgrounds or learning needs, are provided equal opportunities for success, we need to continually question, analyze, and address potential disparities among different student groups. One critical question  educators should ask is: “Are students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) as college and career-ready as those without IEPs?”

IEPs and College/Career Readiness

Students with IEPs often require specialized instruction and resources to accommodate their unique learning needs. This, however, does not negate their potential to be college and career-ready. However, it may necessitate different strategies or more focused resources to ensure they are given every opportunity to succeed in their post-secondary pursuits.

While there may be an assumption that students with IEPs might lag behind their peers in terms of college and career readiness, it’s important not to generalize. The readiness of these students, like any other group, varies significantly and depends on many factors, including the quality and effectiveness of their IEPs, their access to resources, and the level of support they receive both in school and at home.

Analyzing Data for Different Student Groups

Identifying possible disparities in college and career readiness between students with IEPs and those without begins with the careful analysis of various data sets. Examples might include standardized test scores, graduation rates, enrollment in advanced courses, or post-secondary enrollment rates. This data analysis helps educators not only identify potential gaps but also formulate strategies to address them.

However, it’s crucial that educators constantly evolve their analysis based on the diverse populations they serve. For example, educators might look at differences in college and career readiness between students of different ethnicities, genders, socioeconomic statuses, or English language learners. By continually reevaluating and refining the questions we ask of our data, we can better understand the unique challenges different student groups face and devise more effective strategies to address them.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Paul Kaskovich
Account Executive
773-789-5444 x110

Learn More About Otus

Cleaning Up and Cashing In

It happens in every school district – after a couple of years, old computers, broken tablets, and other decommissioned devices start piling up in a closet. They’re no use to teachers or students anymore, but you can’t just throw them in a dumpster. So, what are you supposed to do with all of that e-waste?

Here in Illinois, e-waste recycling and technology buyback programs offer a secure and eco-friendly solution.

E-waste recycling is a multi-step method for disposing of electronic devices that mitigates environmental hazards and offers opportunities to recover valuable material. To kickstart this process, some electronics manufacturers and resellers offer buyback programs, which offer school districts compensation for their old equipment.

With ILTPP’s support, your district can take advantage of both solutions. Several of our trusted Vendor Partners can clear out your district’s e-waste backlog while recouping costs you can spend on your next big technology purchase.

What is the Difference Between E-Waste Recycling and Buyback Programs?

Though they work hand-in-hand, e-waste recycling and technology buyback programs are separate strategies for reducing your institution’s e-waste backlog.

Here’s how each solution works:

E-Waste Recycling

E-waste recycling describes any program that focuses on responsibly collecting and disposing of broken, outdated, or otherwise unusable electronics.

These programs start at a consumer level, offering participants a streamlined method for packing up and shipping away their unwanted devices. From there, the recycler disassembles the old equipment and safely removes hazardous materials like lead, mercury, and cadmium. Some valuable metals – especially gold, silver, and palladium – are also removed during recycling.

In all, e-waste recycling is an environmentally conscious strategy for ensuring your district’s old electronics don’t take up extra space in your schools or contribute to environmental pollution.

Technology Buyback Programs

Technology buyback programs offer institutions a financial incentive for returning functioning or repairable devices rather than throwing them away. They are typically offered by electronics sellers, who work with an electronics recycling company to responsibly dismantle old equipment and return a portion of their value to the original buyer.

With these programs, schools can eliminate their unused device backlog while budgeting for their replacement. Technology buyback programs also empower districts to efficiently cycle new hardware into their classrooms while remaining budget-conscious.

ILTPP’s Trusted E-Waste Recycling & Technology Buyback Partners

ILTPP is proud to work with five reputable vendors who offer a variety of e-waste recycling and technology buyback options.

Check them all out when your district is ready to add sustainability to its technology purchasing plans:

R2 and RIOS certified, offering data destruction, sanitization, remarketing, recycling, packaging, and removal services, committed to environmental compliance and risk mitigation. 

Locations in Granite City, Waukegan, and Batavia.

Provides a three-step trade-in program with a questionnaire, packaging supplies, and equipment testing for accurate value assessment. 


Offers upfront estimates, asset tag removal, data sanitization, fair market value, zero-landfill recycling, and return box kits for large quantities. Onsite data destruction is available for an additional fee. 


Specializes in Chromebooks, Apple, and Windows devices. Offers customizable buyback services, white-glove packaging and hauling, and secure packaging and return labels. They also handle device auditing and provide clear communication throughout the process. Learn more about The Simple Process.


Offer a complete service for secure and eco-friendly removal of your IT equipment. They handle everything from pickup and packaging to transport and disposal, providing documentation and ensuring data security. 

Why Choose an ILTPP Vendor Buyback Program?

By using an ILTPP-approved vendor, your district gains:

  • Pre-vetted and reputable partners: Our team has done the legwork to ensure you work with reliable companies. Many have already worked with other Illinois school districts, so they understand your institution’s needs and priorities.
  • Simplified process: Avoid the hassle of public auctions or RFPs.
  • Competitive pricing: Get fair market value for your used equipment.
  • Additional benefits: Some vendors offer services for packaging, removal, and data destruction – all at a reduced rate.

Your Partner for Clearing Out E-Waste

Don’t let your district’s old electronics become a burden! Partner with an ILTPP Vendor Partner to recycle your e-waste responsibly and free up space for new devices. You may earn back some cash while doing your part for the environment, so it’s a win-win.

Contact an ILTPP partner today to start your next technology refresh.