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Q&A: Tech-savvy tacticians

The Information Tech (IT) team helps teachers and students around the district with issues pertaining to technology, whether it be in the classroom or online. The Hoofprint interviewed Bryan Culross, Nikko Gonzales, Christopher Koh, Kevin Wendland and Bill King about their roles as IT members.

Bryan Culross, Lead Technician
Q: Can you describe your position and what that job entails?
A: I’m the Lead Technician and am in charge of the help desk. We have the help desk get the phones answered, dispatched to go out and do jobs and from there, we get all our work orders. My role is to float around the school for emergencies and take care of the audio and visual in classrooms: projectors, TVs, sound systems.

Q: How often are you on campus?
A: Since I am not assigned here anymore, I am here once a week.

Q: What is the most common problems that you run into at Walnut?
A: It depends on the time of the year. In the beginning of the year, it’s passwords because people cannot login since they forgot their passwords. In the summer, we get the new stuff in, so we image them or join Chromebooks in the domain. Throughout the year, computers will break or we will have to wipe the operating system to put them on a new one. We have public address systems (PAs) and bells that we also work on.

Q: How long have you been working in the district?
A: I have been here for 23 years with the district. I was assigned to Diamond Bar two years ago, and I work at all the schools — Suzanne Middle School, Vejar, Collegewood, Westhoff, South Pointe.

Q: What have you taken from your time at Walnut?
A: It’s a great place to work. There are great people, and it really has a family atmosphere around the district. It’s just a cumulation of everything.

Q: Can you describe your background with technology?
A: I started out my career in ‘83 as an electronic technician. I trained for computers, but they just weren’t popular at the time. I did audio and visual repair for TVs, radios and stereos for Montgomery Ward. When they closed down, I came here to work on computers.

Nikko Gonzales, Technology Support Specialist
Q: Can you describe your role on campus?
A: On campus, it can be anywhere from break-fix to making sure teachers have what they need to teach in the classroom to running cables. There’s a wide variety of what our daily tasks include, but it’s mostly just break-fix and making sure all the technology is working. Break-fix is a term for when something’s broken and you have to go fix it. It’s not always broken; sometimes it’s user error, sometimes our system’s having issues, sometimes it’s the computer itself.

Q: What’s your background in computer technology?
A: I don’t have a degree in technology, but I started messing around with computers when I was in high school. [I] didn’t really want to do it as a career and then, later on when I realized, “You know what, I’m pretty good at this,” I got a job at the city of Whittier and began pursuing it as a career.

Q: How long have you been working in the Walnut Valley Unified School District?
A: [I’ve been working] in the district for three years. [When it comes to] working with technology, well over 10 years.

Q: How often are you on campus?
A: I have five campuses total that I am in charge of this year. Walnut High has the most volume of work so I’m here anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of the time. The remaining percent of my time, I got to find something to do.

Q: What are some of the most common problems you come across?
A: Password issues, the internet is not working. It’s so broad. I wouldn’t really say there’s a most common problem. Mostly, it’s password issues. And chromebook issues.

Q: What has your experience in technology taught you?
A: I think, if anything, it gets you in the mindset of problem solving and troubleshooting. If you have a good mind for problem solving, then you’re going to do great in technology because one of the main things that you need to understand is the steps you need to take. You don’t always want to take the most complicated step first when troubleshooting something. So, if the computer’s network isn’t working, you don’t want to assume the server must be down. You want to start at a certain point [and] I think being a technician teaches you that skill of knowing how to dissect a problem and analyze it.

Bill King, Technology Support Specialist
Q: Can you describe your position and what that job entails?
A: I’m one of the tech support specialists, and I help or respond to anyone who requests or needs help with their computers. I go to classrooms, office and anywhere with staff, and I work with printers, computers, Chromebooks, iPads, projectors and little robots for elementary students.

Q: Can you describe your background with technology?
A: I majored in engineering and psychology. It was a joke at the time that I would psychoanalyze crazy computers. I worked with computers as a hobby. I was good at it, and it was fun. I’ve worked on networks and servers because I’m more directly helping people.

Q: How often are you on campus?
A: This year, I’m not here, but in the past, it was every other week. This year, I’m mainly working with elementary schools within the district like Walnut Elementary, Castle Rock and CJ Morris. Basically, I have covered all the schools in the district in the past.

Q: What are the most common problems that you encounter?
A: The most common ones are not connecting to the internet, forgotten passwords or printing issues.

Q: How long have you been working in this district?
A: I have worked here for five years.

Q: What have you taken from your time at Walnut?
A: It’s really good that here, the focus is on the students. The motto is Kids First and making sure the kids get what they need to succeed and how do we get there.

Christopher Koh, Technology Support Specialist
Q: Can you describe your position and what that job entails?
A: I provide support for teachers and office staff through helping their phones, printers, laptops and Wi-Fi. Sometimes, we will be rewiring the classrooms for relocating phones or computers.

Q: Can you describe your background with technology?
A: It was more of a hobby, and I was originally a Physical Education teacher in Glendora and was on the technological committee. I got used to helping other teachers with technology needs, and we also provided support for the school. It became more than a hobby, then a part-time job and then a full-time job. I was working part-time for about four years, and this is my fourth year working in the district.

Q: What are the most common problems that you encounter?
A: In the beginning of the school year, there’s a lot of password reset requests or computers not running the way they should because of updates. Because things get moved around at the end of the year, the connections are not working and the printers and student devices need service. When teachers move rooms, they need to change their names and extensions for their phones.

Kevin Wendland, Instructional Technology Coach
Q: What does your job entail?
A: My job is to find ways of bringing technology into classrooms to help teachers and benefit students.

Q: Is this job more in tune with your technical background?
A: Yes it is, and this job is just stuff I was already doing, but the difference now is that more of the campus is open to me.

Q: What is your background with technology?
A: In 2014, I became a Google Certified teacher, and I got my own cart of Chromebooks, and in 2018 I got re-certified. More stuff that I did in class transferred to online, like notes and tests became online, and in some classes I used Desmos and GeoGebra to help with graphs and 3-Dimensional figures.

Compiled by Sherman Wu, Print editor-in-chief
Sarah Aie, Online editor-in-chief
Tristan Gonzalez, Photo editor-in-chief
Photo by Tristan Gonzalez



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