Nashoba Publishing/Lyn Giancotti Pictured are hi-tech wizards Bruce Williams, Pamela Cappucci, Paula Powers, Judy Gravell, Dawn Alexander (holding a Beebot robot) and Peter Balducci.
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PEPPERELL – “Every
desk in here has a computer,
combined with all the computers
that are in the schools in
our district, and they have to
maintain it all. They never
stop and the phone rings constantly.
As a small group they
have to work together to handle
what they handle,” said
Oscar Hills, director of Buildings
and Grounds at North
Middlesex School District,
regarding the six-person team
that offers technical support
to North Middlesex schools.

“Technology is the greatest
equalizer to bring kids
together,” stated Peter Balducci,
Information Systems
manager.

He feels his small team has
done more today than they
have ever done before. He
makes a point to go out at
least twice a week to make
sure things are going the way
they should and meets regularly
with school principals.

“We are more than just
technical support and hardware.
We work a lot with the
teachers to integrate technology
that matches with the
curriculum at that time,” said
Balducci.

Dawn Alexander is the curriculum
integrator and professional
development provider
for the team.

“Dawn is unique in that
she comes from the classroom
and has a special-needs background.
She offers the technology
along with the tools to
help these kids at different
levels,” said Balducci.

At the elementary level,
Dawn brings 21st-century
technology and skills and puts
them in the hands of kids
safely. Apilot program offered
since the fall involves programmable
Beebot Robots.
These robots offer a fun and
exciting way for children to
learn how to program the
robots while learning capitals,
states, angles and measurements,
mathematics skills
and so much more.

I watched a video of a second-
grade class from Spaulding
Elementary School with
the Beebot Robots and it
showed how the children’s
faces lit up while learning
how to program these
machines on different templates.
The robots used come
in the form of bees or cars, in a
bright yellow color.

“It’s amazing how some of
the shyer kids get involved
and interact more with their
classmates. Dawn does a
great job bringing the curriculum
side of the Beebots into
the classrooms. She provides
the training to go with it and
also the follow-up support to
the teachers,” commented Balducci.

There are also 45 interactive
white boards in the district
which allows the teacher
to touch and operate the computer
right from the board
instead of from the computer.

“This is very motivating
way for kids to learn in the
classrooms,” expressed
Alexander.

Google Apps was also
introduced at the middle and
high school levels to ensure
more safety for our students.
Google Apps offer word processing,
calendars, spreadsheets,
presentation software
and Web pages. This allows
students to work on school
projects from home collaboratively
or on their own. Nissitissit
Health teacher, Melissa
Larochelle, had her class (160
students) complete a project
from home, where they only
get a chance to meet once a
week. Google Apps also allows
the teachers to check the history
of what each student did
for a project and grade accordingly.
All parents have to sign
a permission slip for their
children to use Google Apps.
Moodle was also brought to
the middle and high-school
levels to offer unlimited axis
to the curriculum. Teachers
can put their courses online so
students will be able to review
anything that is being taught

“We do a lot of online
searching for better tools to
educate our students. If one of
the members of our group
finds something they bring it
to our attention and we look
at the cost and how it will
work for our students,” added
Balducci.

Bruce Williams is a network
administrator, responsible
for upkeep of the Novel
server and Window servers.
He is a behind-the-scenes guy
who builds the connections
between Ashby, Townsend and
Pepperell. He goes anywhere
in the district for repairs or
troubleshooting. They have
150 network printers.
Williams feels they all work
very well together as a team.

Judy Gravell is a technology
technician who mostly
takes care of the Apple
servers, Mac servers and
desktops. Gravell is responsible
for six Apple servers, one
in each school in the district.
Gravell has learned by the
hands on approach. She also
has taken many training
courses and is constantly
learning because technology is
always changing. Gravell said
it’s fun to have students come
for internships through the
school to learn how to repair
equipment. Some of the students
have gone along to get
degrees in computer science.

“I enjoy my job and its challenges,
but I don’t think people
realize how much we do with the few people we have
for the whole district,” said
Gravell.

Gravell feels they all have
different strengths and can
feed off one another.

The responsibilities of
Paula Powers, the newest
member of the team, include:
desktops, projectors, printers
and hardware. She is constantly
out on the road. I didn’t
have the chance to sit
down with her because she got
called away. She is a welcomed
asset to the team and
keeps up the pace with technology.
Powers is go, go, go all
the time.

Pamela Cappucci is the
secretary for Hills and Balducci.
She is on the front line
and fields all the phone calls
that come into both departments.
Cappucci takes in all
work orders from outside and
sends them to the appropriate
people.

“Pam keeps things running
smoothly. We couldn’t do
it without her,” said Balducci.

The computer teachers are
huge part of ensuring success
for the students and they are
the first line of defense when
there is a computer issue.

“If they can’t handle the
problem within a short period
of time, then a work order is
created and it is sent to us.
Their jobs have definitely
evolved over the years with
the condensing of schools,
along with the budget cuts.
They used to be able to have 2
periods a week to help out
teachers in the classrooms
and had more time to fix
things,” commented Balducci.
They work closely with
Alexander and the IT team to
ensure the success of students
in the district. Cynthia
Landry, Felicia Comeras,
Mark Roy, Ann Monahan,
Paula Grier, and Alisa Adams
are the school district computer
teachers and work hard
to match the curriculum with
what they are doing at that
time.

The I-T Team members are
integrators of new technology.
They provide a safe way for
students in North Middlesex
District to learn 21st-century
skills and technology. They do
so much more than repair and
support equipment and do it
well and with such effort as a
small group.