Again, it’s time to make a change

My time at Hillel Yeshiva has come to an end. As of the new school year, I’ll be joining the team at the Yeshivah of Flatbush’s Joel Braverman High School.

The slightly longer version of the story is that, for reasons far too complicated to go into here, I’m leaving my position as Director of Technology at Hillel Yeshiva. My departure is on good terms and I’ve spent the last few months bringing my replacement up to speed.

I made great friends at Hillel, learned quite a bit, and–thanks to a cooperative and engaged faculty–accomplished a lot that I’m proud of. We grew the school significantly, expanded our toolkits, modernized hardware… and flourished during a global pandemic. Like I said, a lot that I’m proud of.

Last time I wrote one of these posts, I began by saying this:

This isn’t going to surprise you, but I believe in the power of technology to increase student success in schools. Technology tools — in the hands of caring, expert teachers — are the strongest lever we can pull to help students meet their potential.

We do a lot with technology at Hillel and, over the five years I served as Director of Technology, we made some significant strides…

  • When I arrived, the school employed a single technology professional who was primarily concerned with break-fix. The expanded department now comprises three full-time staff: a Coordinator, a Director of Educational Technology and Data Analytics, and a Support Specialist.
  • That team closed almost 1,100 helpdesk tickets over the last school year. The last five years show that half of our tickets were resolved upon first contact and 92% within SLA goals.
  • We tripled the size of our Chromebook fleet, and added iPads to the mix in our Early Learning Center. We scaled-up our our MDM efforts, streamlined our asset management system, and automated user- and device-management using Google Admin Manager.
  • We doubled our internet bandwidth and increased our WiFi capacity fivefold.
  • Every single laptop, desktop, Chromebook, and rack-mounted computer on our campus has been replaced.
  • Every printer has been replaced by state-of-the-art, high-capacity copiers and every printed page is automatically audited by user, leading to a steady decrease in print/paper use.
  • Every classroom projector has been replaced by a large-format Interactive Flat Panel managed via MDM.
  • All network runs have been certified, and fiber and ethernet cabling in all distribution frames has been cleaned up and optimized.
  • Report cards in all grade levels have been digitized, standardized assessments have been moved online, and our purchasing and procurement process is now entirely paperless.

Growth of this kind is never easy. It takes hard work to adopt new tools and methods and we were able to do so only thanks to the efforts of our faculty and staff. Their goodwill, resourcefulness and willingness to try new things have led Hillel’s faculty to enormous growth in finding new ways to help every student achieve.

As I consider that partial list, it occurs to me that those accomplishments are all systemic as opposed to pedagogical. This makes sense, since my time here at Hillel was focused on technology administration; teacher support and growth was someone else’s responsibility.

This is the main reason I’m so excited about my move to the Yeshivah of Flatbush: my time there each day will be spent interacting with students and teachers. I’ll be teaching several sections of High School CompSci and STEM, and I’ll be coaching teachers in the use of EdTech, both passions that I’ve been away from for many years. Additionally, I’ll be supervising and supporting the students who run the school’s A/V systems and working with the Yeshivah’s impressive Performing Arts Program.

I know some people feel stress during times of transition, but I’ve always found change to be exciting. I’ll miss the good friends I made here at Hillel, as well as the invigorating challenges I dealt with every day, but I know that the team in place is capable and the people and equipment I’ve been supporting are in good hands.

To everyone I’ve relied upon and worked with at Hillel: thank you. I’m proud of what we accomplished and I think you should be, too. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, and encountering new, exciting challenges in Brooklyn.