Travis Motal

Meet the Mind

Vol. 7 No. 3 // 2023

Image Courtesy of Travis Motal

Director of Secondary Education at Liberty Hill ISD

Travis Motal is a seasoned education professional with over 20 years of experience in the public education sector. As the Director of Secondary Education and Safety and Security at Liberty Hill ISD, Motal oversees and implements campus safety and security programs for the Texas-based district.

Prior to his current role, Motal has held several leadership positions in education, including Principal and Assistant Principal. His experience in these roles and his time as a teacher have enabled him to establish effective policies to create a safe learning environment for students and staff.

Under Motal’s leadership, Liberty Hill ISD has recently added artificial intelligence capabilities to its security protocol. During an interview with Cognitive Times, he shared his thoughts on the technology, why he introduced AI to the school’s security plans and the exponential technology’s impact on education.

CT: In the last year, especially, there have been rapid and exciting advancements in artificial intelligence technology. What impact do you think AI and other emerging technologies will have in education at large, and how do you prepare students in your district for an AI forward future?

TM: The biggest impact I can see AI having, especially for school safety, is that it is always on. AI does not need to take breaks or eat lunch or miss a day because it is sick. AI is always protecting our schools from potential threats. I think there will always be privacy questions that we will have to vet and understand thoroughly, but in the end, if it keeps our school safe, I think it is a technology worth exploring to see if it meets our needs.

CT: Liberty Hill continuously invests in security for its school campuses and has demonstrated that the use of technology for school safety is of top priority. How does the district evaluate what types of technologies and solutions should be deployed on campus, and how do those solutions align with the district’s values and goals?

TM: If a technology or program can keep our school safer, we will look into it and see how it can meet our needs and fit into our budget. Our number one goal is a safe school environment; without that, learning and extracurriculars cannot happen.

CT: Liberty Hill has set itself apart as a leader in Texas—a state that has seen the second-highest number of school shootings nationally—by adopting transformative technology to safeguard students and faculty. What motivated you to consider using technology like artificial intelligence for school safety, and what benefits does this technology provide for Liberty Hill?

TM: Liberty Hill, ISD, wants to be the leader in school safety for our students and staff. After getting in contact with SparkCognition and seeing what AI technology can do to keep our schools safe, we wanted to explore every option to ensure we are maximizing our efforts. Visual AI Advisor is great at ensuring we are always watching for potential concerns and threats that could enter our schools.

CT: What feedback have you gotten from parents, students, and Liberty Hill staff about adding visual AI technology to your school safety measures?

TM: All of our feedback has been positive. The community and parents have been very supportive of all the efforts we are making to keep our schools safe.

Image Courtesy of SparkCognition

CT: What advice would you give to other schools and districts looking to adopt new technologies to enhance school safety?

TM: I would encourage everyone to explore every option they can and then decide what is best for our schools. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make. I would also think about school safety in layers. On the outside, to harden your school entries, security film, and access points. On the inside with cameras, locks, and technology. Communication through alert detections, alarms, and coordination with local law enforcement— as coordination with our police department is key to overall success in our school safety initiatives.

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