I was able to get a lot of information from my mentor teacher. She told me that her biggest piece of advice that she can give new teachers is to befriend the Technology Department because if you are in their favor, the lesson opportunities are endless. Ms. Thorpe informed me that the Director of Educational Technology recently retired, and Richmond Heights is actively searching for a person to fill the position. However, they have yet to find a replacement, and it does not seem to be urgent. The school has outsourced all major technology support to a company that has some staff at the school, however, they are based in Florida. Makes me think: what if something catastrophic happened from a technological aspect? What is the recovery time frame? Ms. Thorpe did mention Ray, who was the Former Director of Technology. Ray is a jack-of-all-trades at the school. He continues to support the school but focuses on hardware and coding. Ray also handles most of the maintenance and security. A fascinating aspect of Richmond Heights is that the building is physically connected to the Richmond Heights Library. Multiple librarians act as liaisons to the students. The students can access books online through Destiny Discover, which is software.
Technologies that are available to the students and staff include Chromebooks that are offered to all. There is a policy allowing students to bring their own devices if families want to, but they are not required to purchase anything. The students and parents are liable if the Chromebook is damaged–it is a $250.00 fee. The school provides all the necessary technology and software. Students have access to cameras to create films, and there is software that is paid for like FlipGrid, Quizlet, and testing software. Students can access and reserve additional pieces of technology through their portal.
The Firewall is strict, and teachers have struggled to overcome it. The firewall does not block Netflix, TikTok, and other social media platforms. To get around this, teachers must request what needs to be blocked or unblocked. The outsourcing company then decides. Teachers and students also use the app Securly which allows teachers to monitor the work of their students. I don’t know how I feel about this.