Servant Leadership and Service at it's best!!!
In any organization there are people who truly make a difference. Sometimes they are easily recognized and other times they perform in near anonymity. As SSISD has progressed in our 1:1 journey 6 people have worked tirelessly to make things happen behind the scenes. Because I get the luxury of working directly with teachers and students, I often hear the comments of appreciation for the opportunities that come along with the added access to classroom technology. Sometimes the frustration and complaints are shared as well and that is ok. I want to share a little about the people that work behind the scenes. For me, I know these people have taught me so much about educational technology and I am grateful to be able to work with and learn from some of the best in the business.
Our technology department consists of 6 district level staff members and several campus level people. The campus staff is beyond important to the group, but the focus of this article is going to be on the 6 that work in the district office. This staff includes, Rodney White - Technology Director, Ben Scott - Network Administrator, Michael Hoybook - Computer Technician, Allison Martin - Technology Specialist, David Hodges - Network Engineer, and Larry Mahand - Technology Specialist
My journey with technology started 3 years ago because of the vision and leadership of Rodney White. I was hired as a campus technology specialist at the High School despite being under qualified from the technology perspective. Rodney saw my instructional background and realized that it would be an opportunity for him to get someone with a different perspective within his staff. This meant that the "Silent 6" would all have to take on a heavier workload as they taught me the technical side of things. Rodney's vision and understanding of district goals and needs show up often with things like this.
Rodney made it clear to me from day one that he operates with two key concepts in mind.
- If teachers truly need something he will do everything in his power to try to provide it.
- As a leader, he is not interested in personal fanfare. He is humble and not interested in self promotion.
As the technology director he gets pulled a million different directions as departments and campuses express their needs. Rodney leads his department with a team mentality and you will often see him in the trenches helping make sure things are done.
Ben Scott's title is Network Administrator, but it might be better said that he is the " all the other stuff guy." Everyone in the department takes on a share of the random things that come up, but often times if it doesn't fit in a certain area, Ben has a hand in getting it done. Despite all the random things, Ben has also undertaken the challenge of changing out, and building out the district's network. While the 1:1 program has created certain needs, the reality is that Ben has had a plan for several years to get campus networks ready for the growth. In any 1:1 program the infrastructure is priority number 1. Without it a plan will fail, when successful, the temporary setbacks will be manageable. We want things to work like they do at home, but expect the security and stability required of a large organization. The two are not always as easy to balance as we think. Ben also plays a key role in anything that involves an "auto import." Those auto imports are not automatic, until Ben sets them up.
Michael Hoybook handles just about anything related to hardware and software. When devices need repair beyond what the campus techs are able to do, Mike handles them. When software needs to be installed, Michael is involved. While this sounds straight forward the reality is that Mike's job is never complete. Throughout the day he will get numerous calls and questions that many times do not have an immediate answer. For him to complete a task, he will have numerous interruptions that will cause him to drop what he is doing and immediately solve the new requests. Just as a teacher has to meet the needs of students through the day, Mike deals with similar things from all campuses.
Allison Martin is our resident Apple expert and she works with phones and security systems throughout the district as well. In addition to those key duties, she also helps with support tickets from throughout the district. Those of you that know Allison know that she loves to help others. Her calm personality makes her a great front line support person. Allison was a key figure in the launch of our 1:1 program as she helped get the iPad campuses up and running in the first wave of the program. Every department has certain things that someone needs to tackle. As with the rest of the department, Allison is not one to shy away from finding a solution to a problem. She is a key part of the technology team.
David Hodges and Larry Mahand are probably two of the least recognizable of the tech team. Larry is a man of few words, but he serves the district as a part time support person. Larry is often seen handling support tickets and making deliveries of repaired devices. Larry won't say a lot, but his role on the team once again epitomizes the servant service concept. David Hodges joined the district last January. David has had a hand in the network build out and was without a doubt a great addition to the team. Like the rest of the team, David is perfectly content going about his business under the radar. David provides added infrastructure support that will be invaluable as we roll out the final wave of devices at the high school this year. David brings a level of expertise that we are lucky to have.
True leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders.
Why does all this matter?
The next time you are in your classroom and your students are accessing materials that wouldn't be possible without the technology, remember that there is a group of people working behind the scenes that care about our students. They work to make access possible. They do so with a leader that allows people in his department to serve and shine in their respective roles. Rodney and his staff provide a service that is invisible when working, and the easy to criticize when not. I can promise you though, they serve us well, and we are lucky to have them.