Decidedly Academic. Distinctively Christian.
A few years ago, Tony Ramirez was a technology graduate student and accomplished athlete at Azusa Pacific University, where he garnered many wins for the university’s track and field team. Today, he continues a winning streak, not as a runner, but as Foothill’s Information Technology Director, a position held for the past eight years. With a drive to lead the pack, he runs extra hard to help Foothill Christian School and Preschool not only stay ahead of the trends and technologies, but more importantly, build a technology-rich environment that enhances student learning.
“It’s not just about having the latest gadgets,” Tony says. “Technology is changing constantly, so it’s really about finding ways to help students use the knowledge and tools of technology to flourish.” Flourish is something he has witnessed firsthand: “It has been amazing to see students take this technology to a level we didn’t anticipate,” citing examples of student-initiated movies, animation, special effects, and similar discoveries “that are incredibly creative and novel.”
When Tony came to Foothill, he was the “IT guy,” as he likes to say. “If something were broken, I fixed it. If someone needed help, I helped them.” That position has evolved into a much greater role that includes creating systems and relationships with vendors and service providers. “Today, my job requires a higher level of involvement in planning and strategy. In this day and age, you can’t just be ‘down’ for an hour; we’re a community that’s quite complex.” The amount of effort that has gone into Foothill’s technology amounts to countless hours of discussion, research, decision-making, and implementation.
Every change from new servers and innovative software, to cloud computing and faster speeds, to network access and wireless convenience “have made a huge difference over the past eight years,” Tony says with a glowing smile. Beneath his always-calm exterior, Tony confessed that inwardly “it feels like I’m just hanging on. But the goal of any IT guy is to make it look easy,” and that he does with the skill of a championship runner!
Intentional and systematic growth of technology requires a gradual day-to-day commitment. But one need only look for a moment to see all that’s been accomplished. With Tony’s expertise and a fully supportive leadership team, strategic integration of technology and education have had many benchmarks worthy of celebration:
– 35 new state-of-the art computers for the computer lab and library
– iPads and secure content-filtered wireless access for every grade level. Lower grades use portable technology carts; 7th and 8th grade enjoy the convenience of one-to-one iPad access
– Upgrading of wireless systems on both preschool and Baseline campuses
– Internet speeds have substantially increased by changing over from a T-1 connection to a high-speed fiber optic network allowing Cloud access
– Innovation-based strategic plan for short, intermediate, and long-term technology goals
– New laptops for every faculty member
– State-of-the art projectors, interactive white boards, digital and high-resolution connectivity, and Apple TV for every classroom
As long as there is vision and commitment to technology, the demands of change and innovation will continue. “But it sure is worth it all when you see these young students take hold of what’s available them, and then flourish with it.” For Tony and the leadership team, it’s a gratifying run for the distance with the certainty of a finish line bound for change.