As an elementary and middle school student, L. Robert Furman, now principal of South Park Elementary Center, used the early programming language, BASIC, to draw straight-line houses on screen.
At the same time, the young drummer and pianist dabbled in "Finale" software that allowed him to compose on a computer.
Later, as a member of the marching band at West Virginia University, he began designing his marching drills on a computer.
"I enjoyed all the electronic music software," said Mr. Furman, 41.
This week, the South Park man's lifelong embrace of technology as a standard educational practice was acknowledged when he was formally recognized as a "20 to Watch" honoree of the National School Boards Association's Technology Leadership Network.
The 20 education leaders from throughout the United States are being honored for their ability to inspire colleagues to incorporate innovative technology solutions that contribute to high-quality learning environments and more efficient school district operations.
Mr. Furman could not attend the ceremony because he will be presenting material from his book, "Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan,'' at the Association of School Curriculum Development in Chicago on Saturday.
The book presents a comprehensive guide to help educators embrace the use of instructional technology tools in the classroom.
Mr. Furman, who has a doctorate in education from Duquesne University, delivers presentations to educational associations about five times a year, with a frequent topic being the use of social media to enhance learning.
Examples include the History Channel's Twitter feed of Titanic events as they occurred in real time, and the students' creation of Facebook pages as Harry Potter or other literary characters might.
Teachers also can share ideas and engage in discussions on social media sites.
He is also writing a book on "motivating the reluctant readers through technology,'' with tips, such as hooking up with classrooms worldwide through Skype or ePals for students' discussion of books they read and promoting the schoolwide broadcast system as a venue for book reviews by students.
Mr. Furman also encourages teachers to use E-reading resources, such as "Book Wizard," to customize book lists based on reading levels and themes.
A May 5 vendor fair and carnival fundraiser, sponsored by the school's technology committee, is seeking to raise enough funds to eventually place a SMART Board interactive whiteboard in every classroom.
"My staff knows my passion for technology, and now they have that same passion,'' he said.
Mr. Furman's interest in learning received a resounding kick-off as a youth.
His father, Robert L. Furman, also has a doctorate and is a former deputy superintendent in the Upper St. Clair School District. His mother, Rosalie Furman, is a former first-grade teacher in the Peters Township School District.
"When you're 8 or 9, the dinner conversation was about what happened at school and all three of us talked about education,'' he said.
Today, his goal is to continue advocating for others what he seized for himself decades ago.
"I want to make sure all kids have an opportunity to use technology properly to enhance their twenty-first century skills,'' he said.
Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: email@example.com