The beginning of the SUPERNet Consortium converged with major events in public education during 1994. This was a time when schools began to dream about accessing educational resources via the Internet, high stakes testing became the norm, a proliferation of computers emerged in schools, the Texas Legislature published its Long-Range Plan for Technology (1998), and the US Department of Education issued Title II Part D mandating a new level of technology integration in public education.
At this time there was not any connectivity in East Texas motivating a small group of schools to band together to support systemic change, attract industry and higher-ed partners, secure alternative funding, and to build one of the finest technology infrastructure in Texas.
The SUPERNet Consortium, a collaboration of 18 East Texas school districts, was established in 1996 to provide affordable Internet access and technical expertise to member districts. The first member districts were Arp, Big Sandy, Carlisle, Hawkins, Henderson, Jacksonville, Lindale, New Summerfield, Van, Union Grove, Whitehouse, Winnsboro, and Winona. Within a few years, Chapel Hill, Hallsville, Tyler, White Oak and Tatum were added.
SUPERNet dedicated itself to forging milestones in curriculum and instruction, professional development, and in growing a well connected professional-learning community among member districts, teachers, administrators, technology directors, partners, higher education and community members.
SUPERNet has greatly increased collaboration and communication throughout the East Texas Region. Working with a research based constructivist model; SUPERNet has prepared teachers with 21st Century Technology Integration Skills.
In July 2002, SUPERNet began the pilot for Virtual High School by offering online courses to consortium member districts. As of Spring 2009, SUPERNet Virtual High School is now a course provider statewide through Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN).
In 1999, SUPERNet was selected as one of two Texas Spotlight Schools to present at the Secretary’s Conference on Education Technology in Washington D.C. In 2000, the CORD research group adopted SUPERNet’s plan for teacher professional development collaboration as their model for replication in Missouri, an area very similar in demographics to SUPERNet districts.
SUPERNet answered the demands of smaller districts by providing one of the first Virtual high schools (VHS) in the state. The SUPERNet VHS (https://sites.google.com/view/snvhs?authuser=1) has been accepting online students since 2002 and is one of the original course providers of the Texas Virtual School Network (www.txvsn.org). SUPERNet currently serves on the advisory board for TxVSN.
In addition to providing one of the first video conferencing and distance-learning networks in East Texas, SUPERNet won the 2003 Award of Excellence in Education from Microsoft & Intel Teach to the Future. This National Award was in recognition of the consortium training efforts to provide consortium teachers with technology integration skills for the 21st Century classroom.
The U.S. Secretary of Education’s program reveiw of SUPERNet gave the consortium the greatest complement stating, “It is this network of SUPERNet schools that is a single most important factor enabling change to be sustained. Previously isolated in time and space, these schools now know that they are not alone in the change process” (U.S. Department of Education, 2000, para 2).
SUPERNet has been featured in two different issues of the EdLiNC publication as an E-Rate Success Story and has also been featured in publications by Dell, VCOM, and the Texas Center for Educational Technology (TCET).
In March 2016, Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA) recognized the SUPERNet Consortia for Outstanding Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Distance Learning by an Organization.
Partners providing access