As Grapevine-Colleyville ISD's chief technology officer, Kyle Berger must keep the district’s information network operating 24/7 while facing ever-increasing needs, such as increased storage capacity and cost efficiency. Those responsibilities must be carried out while dealing with constant threats, such as security breaches and malicious attacks.

Berger’s career spans more than 22 years in K-12 technology leadership. He has earned several awards, including:
  • Technology Director of the Year for Texas
  • 2020 National Edtech Leadership winner
  • 2022 Top 100 Influencers in Edtech by Edtech Digest
To help parents better understand the technology that students use on a daily basis, Berger created the Parent Technology Academy, which brings parents together on a regular basis for educational programs.

Answers may have been edited for length, style and clarity.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a school district chief technology officer?

The foremost challenge I confront as a school district CTO is effectively managing cybersecurity in education. My recent participation in a White House event emphasized the pressing concerns schools encounter in safeguarding students and staff within the ever-evolving cyberlandscape. The rapid evolution of cyberthreats necessitates a constant effort to outpace malicious actors who exploit vulnerabilities.

A key responsibility of mine, along with my team, involves educating both students and staff on online safety and ever-changing threats. This entails fostering digital literacy and cybersecurity awareness to equip everyone with secure digital skills.

Regrettably, the intensity of cyberattacks targeting schools is on the rise. Recent data underscores that educational institutions were the primary global target last year, surpassing even sectors like telecommunications and finance.

The constraints posed by limited resources and staff expose schools to vulnerability. Cyberattacks not only disrupt education and school operations, they have a direct impact on students, families and teachers alike.

What are some technology challenges that are specific to GCISD?

The way schools are funded by the state creates significant challenges for GCISD to progress and maintain our innovation and instructional integration. The state's retrieval of district funds through recapture places districts like GCISD in a challenging situation. Additionally, the increasing expenses of technology and the rising concerns of cybersecurity risks compound the funding problems we face.

As a technology professional in a school district, what do you think is the most challenging aspect of parenting in the digital age?

The rapidly changing digital environment we live in poses significant challenges for numerous parents. Children swiftly grasp and master new technologies, making it tough for parents to keep pace with the latest trends and terminology. Back when we were growing up, our means of connecting were confined to school and our local surroundings. Presently, kids remain interconnected around the clock, thriving on the demand for immediate information. Teaching our children how to appropriately utilize technology that we might not entirely comprehend ourselves proves to be quite a demanding task. The best way for parents to stay up-to-date with new technologies is to engage in conversations with their children about the technologies they're using, showing genuine interest and curiosity.

A couple Parent Technology Academies are scheduled for the fall semester. Can you briefly explain what the academy is and what is the goal for each session?

Each session of the Parent Tech Academy dives into various areas of technology not only in our schools, but also in our lives. The first sessions of the year are designed to help our parents navigate all the tools we have here in GCISD to connect with our staff, review their child’s instructional data and be a part of their learning process. From there, the sessions evolve to share insight into the ever-changing landscape of mobile apps as our students dive into these sometimes dangerous applications. We discuss how to be more cyberaware and protect your own computers and home from cyberthreats. Additionally, we address the need to balance the usage of technology in all our lives by confronting technology addictions.

The overarching goal of each session is to help empower our families with up-to-date information within the ever-changing world we live and learn in.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your job as CTO and/or the Parent Technology Academy?

Educating and parenting our children in this digital age takes us all working together. I strive to continue to build on our parent partnerships and strengthen our community at the same time. The responsibility to support and provide the tools that our students use to learn as well as those our staff needs to perform their jobs can be a daunting task. When combined with the growing threat of cyberattacks, the imperative need to protect all our data grows daily.

However, it takes us all to navigate these times together by each being informed and carrying on the conversations. My hope is Parent Tech Academy can continue to be the conduit of that message. Together we can raise our children in a safer digital world and prepare them for a future that we cannot even begin to imagine.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family. My wife is a school counselor, and my two kids are ages 16 and 12. We enjoy traveling and the outdoors. We also spend time at our family ranch in South Texas. It has been a part of our family since the 1870s, and we manage cattle on it still to this day.