As Amit Ray, famous for his work on non-violence and quantum computing said, "In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path—the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love." The Nueva Technology Office has continued to take this higher path during the present difficulties: It has been there every step of the way, supporting students, staff and parents so that the Nueva education experience could continue from the very earliest days of the pandemic. This story is part three in a four-part series of gratitude for the ways in which staff are working behind the scenes to make school happen for students, faculty and everyone else who uses it—so that Nueva students can continue to generate the “great ideas” for which they are famous.
It may be fair to say that every program we’ve run, every class we’ve taught, every guest speaker we’ve welcomed since March 2020 have relied on one major thing—technology. The team behind the technology, led by Director of Technology Edward Chen, has played such an integral role in ensuring that Nueva continues to offer the experience our community expects. They have played a critical role in ensuring that not only could students and faculty continue to learn and teach in a remote setting; they were instrumental in helping teachers transition to hybrid learning.
"This is a key part of our infrastructure that has allowed us to pivot so swiftly as an educational establishment,” said Head of School Lee Fertig. “We have a powerful Technology Team: responsible, creative, resourceful, diligent, professional, responsive, collaborative, and determined.”
"We have a powerful Technology Team: responsible, creative, resourceful, diligent, professional, responsive, collaborative, and determined."
— Lee Fertig, head of school
The most visible aspect of the Technology Office’s responsibility is the implementation and support of the school’s K–12 laptop program. In order to ensure those laptops run smoothly, the team members also manage the school’s local network, servers, and online platforms. They respond to help requests from faculty, staff, and students, and they oversee Nueva’s data and information privacy policies. In addition, they are also involved in helping students learn digital citizenship, which has become increasingly important with so much time now spent online, more than ever before.
The Nueva School Technology Office team consists of seven people, led by Ed, who oversees all aspects of Nueva technology and works with the Nueva Leadership Team to develop plans for the technological future of the school. Bruce Deng is the Nueva coder and web developer for the Nueva internal community website (myNueva). Ramiro Orta, who is the manager of the Technology Office, tackles standalone projects while managing his four team members. Bryan Meger and Peter Abela are his support technicians on the San Mateo campus (Bryan also maintains the school’s network systems), and Rondell Mangaliman and Nestor Cardenas are the support technicians on the Hillsborough campus. This team works closely with division offices, school administration, and the school nurse team to ensure systems are in place to keep Nueva safe and running. And the pandemic has brought with it added responsibilities for this team.
“Our team had to pivot from mostly supporting school faculty and staff to now becoming the first line of contact for just about everyone, including students and parents,” Bruce said. “Fortunately, it went well. I really appreciate everyone for being patient and for all the support by our team to make it happen.”
In addition to integrating Zoom and coding the new Remote Learning Schedule (among other pandemic-related projects), the team has also helped to ensure campus safety. Bruce was integral in helping to create systems that allow people to enter campus safely, and because of a collaboration between the Operations Team and Rondell and Nestor, more than 700 returning laptops were cleaned and disinfected over the summer. Peter worked to make sure upper school students could continue to check out disinfected cameras and calculators.
It can be easy for behind-the-scenes to go unnoticed, and Ed wants our community to know what the support of the community means to his team.
“While we may seem very remote—perhaps part of your computer at times—we are human and have experienced loss, like so many others, during this pandemic,” Ed said quietly. “It’s also been nearly a year of nonstop work, heavy lifting, and sheer willpower to get us through each wave of challenges. We are tired, so our community can help us by keeping your laptops safe, free from damage or liquids, charged, and working smoothly.”
“It is not an underestimation to say we could not do what we are doing in terms of remote or hybrid learning without the technology team’s constant support,” Upper School Head Liza Raynal said. “Since the day we closed last March to now, almost a year later, they've shown up calm, cool, collected, and informed in every area of the school. At first we didn't know how to make Zoom breakout rooms, and they assured us it was going to be OK. Then we needed to figure out how to see and hear each other in a hybrid classroom, and they guided us through multiple set-ups for bespoke needs. They are indefatigable.”
It is perhaps not hyperbole to say that the team’s efforts have been herculean. Their collective efforts have allowed Nueva to return to campus using a flexible hybrid learning model that works for different subject areas and students at home and on campus, serving as a model for other schools.
“When I worked for Apple, I had the privilege of leading six different teams over my 12-year tenure there,” Ramiro noted. “I would consider the Nueva Tech Office team one of the best.”
Lee added, “I hope the entire Nueva community will join me thanking each and every member of this team for everything they do in service of the Nueva Way.”