We started the Innovation Council earlier that year to shape the future that Jami described at Pirate Night. Each month we brought together teachers, students, and community members to help provide the new strategic direction of Jami’s school.
It was at the first meeting that we met Kathy. At the start of the meeting, everyone went around the table introducing themselves. When Kathy introduced herself as the CEO of OnlineNW, she mentioned that they were the new internet provider for the school district and had built a fiber optic line to the school over the summer.
Jami and I looked at each other. Neither of us knew of this construction of fiber to the school building. But we both recognized immediately the importance of this news.
If Dayton's school now had fiber, there would virtually be no limits on future bandwidth. That opened up the door to all of the online media content of the web to support student learning. For a small rural community, this access leveled the learning playing field.
After the meeting, Jami and I took Kathy aside to learn more. Over the next few days, we expanded the conversation. Two weeks later we put in place an agreement for the company to build a world-class internet network for the entire city that included a revenue-sharing plan to fund student projects.
Dayton would become the first city on the West Coast to have a super-fast 10 Gig fiber network. Only two other cities in the country had similar speeds. The students would also have access to funds for their projects rather than depending on unpredictable grants.
As the Council continued to meet, more community resources were discovered. But also the initiative in Dayton became more focused. The students on the Council wanted this to be Dayton's initiative, not just a part of a larger state initiative.
So Innovate Dayton was launched, the first of what would become many initiatives to embrace a new innovation culture to support the local community.
To guide the development of Innovate Dayton, a new student-led group was needed. It was called the Innovate Dayton Leadership Team.
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