Behind the Screens
In the spring of 2020, school technology departments were faced with unprecedented challenges as the coronavirus pandemic forced instruction to move to remote learning. In an effort to highlight the great work of the technology staff at schools around the state, we are excited to launch a new monthly series, Behind the Screens. Check back each month and follow along on social media to see who will be recognized next.
Sandy Warhurst, Technology Coordinator from Dover School District
The mission of the Dover School District technology department is to provide technology, services, and tools to support instruction and the student education experience. Sandy Warhurst oversees this department, which supports a variety of servers, systems, networking equipment, and infrastructure. According to her superintendent, Sandy is very pleasant to work with. She does a great job of managing the technology department and meeting the various technology needs across the district. She has been instrumental in the one-to-one initiative at the Dover School District. She does an excellent job of managing and upgrading devices promptly and timely so that students and staff have the best technology available. Sandy is always working on improving resources and access at each campus so that students have what they need to learn best.
Submitted by Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative
Don Core, Technology Coordinator from County Line School District
Don Core has been the Technology Coordinator at County Line School District for the past 8 years. He is a 1982 graduate of County Line, so his passion for the school and students is tremendous. Mr. Core has taken on more than just being a technology coordinator. He is also a bus driver and an FCA sponsor, a role that brings him great pride. Since he has been here, Mr. Core has been instrumental in implementing many new upgrades to our technology infrastructure. The district has added underground fiber connections across the campus, teacher computers have been replaced by laptops, interactive displays are replacing smart boards, and our telephone system has been switched over to a VOIP system. County Line was one-to-one with Chromebooks before the pandemic hit, but devices stayed at school. Now that Chromebooks travel with students, the number of repairs needed has increased tremendously for Mr. Core, a one-man technology crew. We have also added Swivl technology and iPads so teachers have the ability to teach remotely. They can add lessons to Google classroom for easier access by students that may be learning from home. Mr. Core is a great employee, and his love for the school is on display daily. He is a valuable member of the County Line Indians team.
Submitted by Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative
Shaun Windsor, Technology Coordinator from Salem School District
Shaun Windsor has been the Technology Coordinator at Salem School District for 16 years. However, Mr. Windsor plays a much larger role in the district than just tech coordinator because he is also their instructional technology specialist. Mr. Windsor works with teachers to help integrate technology into the classroom. When the COVID pandemic first emerged, Mr. Windsor trained each teacher on the skills they needed to teach online. Teachers were able to teach students in their classroom and, using their new technology skills, teach students at home at the same time. With six sessions of week-long training events during the summer, he was able to train every teacher in the district how to use the district's LMS and Zoom. With the help of Mr. Windsor's expertise, we were able to meet the needs of every Salem student despite the pandemic's challenges. With the help of one computer tech, Mr. Windsor manages the district's one-to-one Chromebook initiative. Nearly every technology advancement at Salem Schools has been implemented with the support of Mr. Windsor. He helps in so many other ways as well. Before the district tournament, Mr. Windsor changed ballasts and bulbs in the gymnasium and somehow found time to smoke bbq for the hospitality room. He is an all-in type of employee, a true educator who loves Salem and its students.
Submitted by Northcentral Arkansas Education Service Cooperative
Cindy Robertson, IT Director, and Tracie Thomas, Technology Coordinator, from Fouke School District
Cindy and Tracie accomplished a lot for their district during the last school year, and they do not seem to be slowing down any time soon. Last year, they replaced the old Wi-Fi system with a new Aruba Wi-Fi 6 system district-wide and added connectivity to the football stadium and other outdoor areas. They deployed 1,600 new Dell Chromebooks to classrooms and replaced some old carts with new Anywhere carts. All classrooms are now equipped with classroom sets of Chromebooks. In the summer, they bought Chromebook bags and put Chromebooks in them to provide any high school student who wanted one to keep at home for use during the school year.
At the beginning of this year, the district replaced all teacher laptops with new M1 MacBook Airs, so they deployed over 70 new laptops. This year, they will replace all of the main closets' switches with Aruba switches. The hardware for that project has been trickling in. They hope to have everything here in March to begin the installation. The Wi-Fi in the classrooms last year and this year's switch project were funded with E-Rate money. They used the state-funded hotspots extensively last school year but have not had as much need for them this year.
They plan to replace two old Dell servers next school year. Since E-Rate does not fund servers, the district must provide the funding. A new fine arts building is being constructed, so Cindy and Tracie will eventually add it to the network.
Submitted by Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative
Stacy Hardy, Technology Coordinator from Barton School District
Stacy Hardy is committed.
“The level of success you achieve will be in a direct proportion to the depth of your commitment” by Roy T. Bennett
Many of Barton School District's brightest students have left the community for bigger pastures and brighter lights and have not given back to their own community. This is not the case with Stacy Hardy. Stacy has offered all of her talents to the school and the community that she loves. Stacy tirelessly gives of her whole heart, soul, and physical energy to make Barton a better place for our children. When Stacy took this job, teachers barely had a desktop. She has single-handedly taught and brought us through to modern-day technology, including students and all staff. Stacy spends endless hours working overtime on the technology of this school, even on the weekends and in the middle of the night. Stacy is on call 24 hours a day and has been for many years. Most people do not realize this behind-the-scenes work that she does. Barton School District is so fortunate to have this special lady at the helm of our technology.
Submitted by Great Rivers Educational Service Cooperative and her colleagues at Barton School District
Joey McKnight is a rock star for the Newport School District! He has been with the district for 19 years in the technology department, and as the Director, he has helped shape the future of our school, staff, and students. He is a visionary who is always looking at the future of needs in the district and during the COVID crisis has helped Newport stay ahead of the curve. He recognized early on the need to ensure the district was able to provide virtual learning options for students and worked hand-in-hand with T Mobile to map out the needs of hot spots across the district. Just in the past three years, Mr. McKnight has negotiated better contracts with APPLE to ensure the continuation of the district's one-to-one student initiative with IPads. He secured Macbooks for all teachers and NewLine interactive panels for every classroom so students could live stream into their virtual classes. His upgrade of the network and making sure fiber optic lines were installed across the two campuses, to his meticulous installation of the most up-to-date camera system for safety across the district's campuses. "Joey is just the go-to guy and is willing to help anyone at any time," said Superintendent Brett Bunch. He brings a level of commitment and expertise to the district that allows him to put teachers and students at ease with technology. We are thankful he is a part of our team.
I can't think of another tech that gets more compliments from their teachers and administrators.
Submitted by Crowley's Ridge Educational Service Cooperative
Chris Hopkins, Network Administrator from Watson Chapel School District
Chris has been with Watson Chapel for over 20 years. In that time, he has helped with many phases of technology implementation in our district. We have gone 1:1 with student Chromebooks during his tenure here - a significant accomplishment! When technology departments were pushed to the max during the onset of Covid-19, Chris was instrumental in keeping our students and staff members connected. He also headed up getting Cradlepoint hotspots on our school buses so that we could reach our community and keep them connected to teachers and counselors during an uncertain time. He keeps our network running and is always looking towards the future to help make improvements so that we stay ahead of the game. Chris is such a valuable member of our tech team at Watson Chapel!
Submitted by his colleague, Jennifer Howington, at Watson Chapel School District, Arkansas River Educational Service Cooperative
Margie Rutledge, Technology Coordinator from Jasper School District
Margie Rutledge is the technology coordinator for the Jasper School District. Prior to assuming this role, she served as the Jasper Schools Library Media Specialist. Her passion for her technology program is second to none. Due to the tireless efforts of Ms. Rutledge, JSD is now 1:1 on every campus, every classroom is equipped with Viewboards, we have a new phone/intercom system throughout the district, and we are constantly increasing bandwidth on all campuses. In addition to overseeing all things technology for three very logistically separate campuses in our district, Ms. Rutledge takes on many other responsibilities, including overseeing the district's crisis plan, security measures, and many other behind-the-scenes tasks. She conducts professional development for our staff on cybersecurity and other important topics. Ms. Rutledge networks with colleagues from around the state and works to stay current with the latest technology laws, threats, and updates. She is an invaluable part of our district team, and we appreciate all she does for the students and staff of JSD!
Submitted by the Jasper School District Superintendent, Ozarks Unlimited Resource Educational Service Cooperative
Vickie Newton, Technology Coordinator from Warren School District
Vickie Newton has been the technology coordinator for the Warren School District for 15 years. Her dedication to the students and staff in the Warren School District is unprecedented. She has been instrumental in our district being one of the first districts in the state to transition to 1:1 devices. Mrs. Newton has worked diligently to ensure the district has increased our broadband allowing us to have sufficient internet at all campuses. She has high expectations for the technology department and demands that our students and staff have the best equipment available for their teaching and learning needs. Mrs. Newton also provides valuable professional development for staff and is readily available to assist when called upon. She is always trying to find ways for our technology department to better serve the students and staff. Additionally, she networks and collaborates with technology specialists at our local educational cooperative and around the state to ensure the best possible technology to enhance learning. Mrs. Newton is the definition of a team player and is always looking out for what is best for our students in the Warren School District. We are truly blessed to have Mrs. Newton as our technology coordinator.
Submitted by the Warren School District Superintendent, Southeast Arkansas Education Service Cooperative
Darrell Parks II, Technology Coordinator from Hoxie Public Schools
Darrell Parks II, Technology Coordinator for Hoxie Public Schools, is a motivated technology innovator and advocate for Arkansas school district technology staff across our state. Darrell is the founder and director of the "Arkansas Conference of Technology" (ACOT) which is a state technology conference specifically for Arkansas school district technology staff. Darrell has single-handedly devoted his time and energy to setting up this conference every year since January 2016 even through this year's COVID-19 Pandemic which was virtual.
Darrell has been instrumental in the creation of the Free "Hoxie Online Academy" which is an accredited Public School online education option for grades K - 12 students and families that want a flexible and convenient online digital or blended education alternative.
Darrell is a member of the Bono, AR City Council.
Submitted by the Northeast Arkansas Education Cooperative
Brian Lowery and Chris Snyder, Technology Coordinators from McCrory School District
These guys, Chris Snyder and Bryan Lowery, have done an amazing job for the McCrory School District. They manage our website, help with E-Rate, manage our network, our chromebooks, our hotspots, social media posts, and many, many other things.
They are a key part of our culture and systems here at the McCrory School District.
They do not accept barriers, they look for creative solutions. They do not get the acknowledgment that they deserve very often, preferring to take a back seat to our students and faculty. The truth is that we definitely could not have been as successful as we have been this year, if not for these two gentlemen.
Submitted by the McCrory School District Superintendent, Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative
Trent Deloach, Technology Coordinator from Junction City School District
Trent has really worked hard to support his teachers and administrators by making helpful tutorials for his staff as well as working to make sure they have the equipment needed to deliver the best virtual instruction possible. He also has attended all of the Coop Tech meetings and is always willing to share ideas and information with other Tech staff as well as being active on SYS Admin. He does all of this as a one-man show at Junction City School District, which also has a Louisiana Charter. South Central Cooperative School Technology Coordinators as a whole are the best, but Trent has really shined during this pandemic.
Submitted by the South Central Service Cooperative
Nena Land, Technology Coordinator from DeQueen Public Schools
DeQueen was in the process of building a new high school when COVID-19 hit. Nena and her tech team continued to work all summer and never quit. They have since wired and moved new labs into the new high school, moved all the equipment over from the old high school, installed a new ZSpace lab, and replaced all the teacher stations. She and her team put an entire Chromebook Fleet together and pushed out a 1:1 environment allowing high school and middle school students to take theirs home. They added new intercom systems to the new high school, middle school, and junior high. They are currently running cable to a remodeled wing of the old high school, and next on the list is running drops for computer and video equipment in the new broadcasting studio. Amidst all of this, Nena is always willing to help out other techs and shares valuable information gleaned from her experiences. When asked, Nena shares that she loves her job and that it's the people she works with who make her job worth coming back to every day: "I have a good crew and excellent people to work with and for." Nena's tech team includes Jay Carver, Network Administrator, and technology technicians Johntavious Baker and Gary Stewart.
Submitted by the DeQueen-Mena Education Service Cooperative