Where there’s tech­nol­ogy, there’s a need for tech sup­port Fort Oglethorpe pre­par­ing for traf­fic up­grades on Mack Smith, Dietz roads

The Catoosa County News - - FRONT PAGE - By Ta­mara Wolk By Adam Cook

Any­one who has a com­puter or iPad has prob­a­bly ex­pe­ri­enced that “oh no” mo­ment when it wouldn’t work – just when you need a piece of in­for­ma­tion or need to check your work sched­ule or your bank bal­ance.

Now imag­ine to­day’s schools where teach­ers and stu­dents deal with desk­top com­put­ers, lap­tops, Chrome­books, iPads, print­ers, smart boards, doc­u­ment cam­eras and more. Ed­u­ca­tion has be­come de­pen­dent on well-func­tion­ing elec­tron­ics.

Catoosa County Schools pro­vides all stu­dents and teach­ers with elec­tronic de­vices. Teach­ers have to deal with not only their own de­vices but those of their stu­dents.

So how does the school sys­tem keep all this tech­nol­ogy run­ning smoothly? Enter the tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ist (TS). Kris Richard­son is one of a team of about a dozen tech spe­cial­ists who work for Catoosa County Schools.

Richard­son’s day starts early – al­most as soon as teach­ers ar­rive at school to pre­pare for class. She finds for­mal re­quests for help – “tickets” sub­mit­ted through the sys­tem’s help desk – and she also gets texts from teach­ers: “My screen is blank, I can’t ac­cess the pro­gram, I can’t get on­line.”

“I try to start out with sim­ple so­lu­tions,” says Richard­son. “Make sure all the ca­bles are plugged in, try restart­ing the de­vice.”

If that doesn’t work, Richard­son starts dig­ging deeper. She keeps a sup­ply of spare parts on hand and has to keep up on the lat­est changes in tech­nol­ogy. The prob­lem can be with hard­ware, soft­ware or un­der­stand­ing op­er­at­ing sys­tems . “Re­cently, we’ve been work­ing to master Win­dows 10,” she says.

Richard­son, who has worked as a TS for 10 years, has a de­gree in psy­chol­ogy and says it comes in handy. She asks ques­tions and of­fers an­swers in ways she’d like to be treated. “I try to be sen­si­tive to peo­ple’s feel­ings. I don’t want to make any­one feel stupid be­cause they don’t un­der­stand some­thing about their lap­top or the smart board or even be­cause they just for­got to turn their de­vice on.”

With yearly test­ing com­ing up in the schools, Richard­son says there’s cur­rently a lot of fo­cus on mak­ing sure key­boards and screens on Chrome­books are all work­ing prop­erly, be­cause the tests are done com­pletely on com­put­ers now.

“You never know what is­sues you’ll be fac­ing when the day starts,” Richard­son says. “The big­gest chal­lenge is to get prob­lems fixed quickly so teach­ers can get on with their job.”

Richard­son says her fa­vorite part of her job is know­ing she’s made life eas­ier for a teacher. “I like work­ing one-on-one with the teach­ers and get­ting things go­ing for them again. I try to deal with their tech­nol­ogy is­sues dur­ing a lunch break or a

The city of Fort Oglethorpe is pro­gress­ing with plans to al­le­vi­ate traf­fic is­sues at two of its in­ter­sec­tions af­ter se­cur­ing a land do­na­tion to build a rounda-bout at one and ap­prov­ing en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices for the other.

For the past few months, city of­fi­cials have been work­ing to eval­u­ate traf­fic is­sues along Mack Smith Road at Steele Road, and at Dietz Road at Bat­tle­field Park­way, as new de­vel­op­ments are planned for both ar­eas.

An­nex­a­tion and zon­ing for a 60-home hous­ing de­vel­op­ment in the 900 block of Steele Road was ap­proved in De­cem­ber, which fol­lowed the an­nounce­ment that a new shop­ping plaza an­chored by Publix su­per­mar­ket would be com­ing to Dietz Road by this fall.

Dur­ing the March 26 coun­cil meet­ing, the board ap­proved ac­cep­tance of land do­na­tions to as­sist with con­struc­tion of the round-a-bout at Steele Road, as well as the en­gi­neer­ing con­tract for the Dietz Road work per the rec­om­men­da­tion of Pub­lic Works and Re­cre­ation Di­rec­tor Jeff Long.

“My­self and Ms. Simp­kins (City Man­ager Jen­nifer PayneSimp­kins) met with the prop­erty own­ers and we had a few mi­nor things that they had con­cerns about and got them ad­dressed — wa­ter, sewer, and dif­fer­ent things there about how it was go­ing to be re-routed,” Long ex­plained. “We talked about stip­u­la­tions that they wanted in­put on as far as the de­sign and stuff like that to make sure it fit their prop­erty and didn’t in­ter­fere or any­thing. We did get that worked out and signed off on. Ev­ery­thing should be clear for the do­na­tion.”

The specifics of the land in­clude a 0.58acre do­na­tion from ERTH Inc. and 0.03-acre piece from Emer­son Prop­er­ties.

plan­ning ses­sion when they aren’t busy with stu­dents, so it won’t add to the things they’re hav­ing to pay at­ten­tion to.”

When her work takes her into a class in ses­sion, Richard­son says the kids some­times try to help. “One lit­tle boy, a sec­ond grader, came up to me while I was work­ing on a de­vice and said he knew what was wrong. He told me all about a virus he thought the de­vice had and said if I’d fix that it would work again. It was so cute.”

Richard­son’s hus­band also works as a TS for Catoosa County Schools. Both have worked in sim­i­lar po­si­tions for Dal­ton State Col­lege, and Richard­son worked for Walker County Schools for a cou­ple of years. While Richard­son works pri­mar­ily at Graysville El­e­men­tary and West Side El­e­men­tary, her hus­band works mostly at Her­itage Mid­dle School.

As the use of tech­nol­ogy in schools grows, the need for sup­port will grow. The Catoosa County school sys­tem is ad­dress­ing that, in part, through their Catoosa U pro­gram, some­thing new since be­com­ing a char­ter sys­tem. A hand­ful of stu­dents serve as paid in­terns train­ing to be­come tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ists. The sys­tem’s of­fi­cial tech spe­cial­ists help train the stu­dents and pre­pare them to be­come HP-cer­ti­fied.

To learn more about tech­nol­ogy in Catoosa County Schools, go to Catoosa.k12.ga.us and click on Depart­ments then Tech­nol­ogy then Let’s Get CON­NECTed.

Jeff Long

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