Ryan Henry, a 2003 graduate of Fort Frye High School, returned to his alma mater two-and-a-half years ago to serve as the district’s technology coordinator.
Henry oversees the acquisition, implementation and use of technology throughout the district at a time when education and the latest devices and programs are becoming increasingly intertwined.
Question: How did you become the technology coordinator for Fort Frye?
Answer: When I was doing my associate degree at Washington State, I had an internship here at Fort Frye with the previous technology coordinator. I really liked the position that I was able to help her with and stuff that I learned about the position. And when I heard that she was retiring, I just sent in my resume for it.
Q: What are your duties?
A: I am basically in charge of all the technology in the district. Computers, smartboards, telephones, printers. We’re going wireless, so the new wireless, any laptops, e-readers, software for the students, remedial software. I’m in charge of the servers, the computer labs, anything and everything to do with the technology.
Q: How important is technology in today’s educational environment?
A: It’s vital in today’s education. In our elementary schools, our students rotate through the computer labs, pretty much every day for at least a half an hour. In our high school, we’re looking at possibly purchasing e-readers as opposed to traditional textbooks for additional, supplemental resources.
Q: How has technology changed from when you were in school? What do today’s students use that you didn’t?
A: When I was in school here, we didn’t have any smartboards. We still used chalk on chalkboards. We were just starting to get computers in the classrooms. And when I was in school here we had … two computer labs. Now, at the high school we have two teaching labs, three labs for signout (by classroom teachers), and we also have three mobile carts of laptops for classrooms.
Q: It can be expensive to keep up with technology. How do you guys try to manage that?
A: Well, we try to look for as many grants as possible to pay for the technology. In this economy, they’ve kind of gone downhill. … Last year, the area businesses helped us by replacing the computers in our newest lab with the virtual boxes.
Q: Can you explain the virtual boxes?
A: We did a lab of virtual machines, so instead of there being a computer sitting at every workstation there’s a virtual box that runs over the Internet and connects to our service rack, so basically it just gives it a virtual desktop.
Q: Who is it harder to teach to use new technology – the students or the teachers?
A: (laughing) You’re wanting me to hang myself aren’t you? I think it’s harder to teach the teachers, simply for the fact that the kids have grown up with the technology. It’s not that it’s harder to teach the teachers; it simply takes them a few extra tries. Whereas the kids just pick it up and run with it, because they’ve grown up with it their entire lives.
Evan Bevins conducted this interview.