By Sophie Fisher ‘21
While often overlooked, Heschel’s Information Technology (IT) Department plays an integral role in the functioning of our school, maintaining everything from the internet to Smartboards. The technology staff also plays a key role in programming, setting up the equipment for communal events.
There are currently seven members of the department, three of whom specifically work in the high school. “There is no typical day,” Director of Technology Doni Farkovits said. Recently, he has been upgrading the firmware and VMware used to support the school’s network. On top of projects like this, Doni noted that he and his colleagues deal with daily emergencies involving “basically anything that plugs into a wall.”
In addition to ensuring that all the school’s technology functions, the department also helps students resolve personal issues with their devices. “You can come to me and I can take a look inside your computer if anything is going wrong and make sure all the little parts are working,” explained technology support specialist Medha Gupta, who joined the Heschel community last year. “I love helping everyone out,” she added.
Although the number of staff members in the department has remained roughly the same, technology is constantly evolving, keeping the staff busy. Heschel’s website aptly describes the school’s goal: “We are constantly evaluating and implementing new technologies that aid instruction and learning.” As both students and faculty know, digital programs such as First Class, Haiku and Google Drive play a key role in daily learning and communication.
Given this as well as the complexity of technology, it is no surprise that the tech staff is constantly facing challenges in their work. As Doni said, “there is so much to do and not enough time.” For Medha, the greatest obstacle is when an issue comes up that she has never encountered before. However, she enjoys doing the research to understand the problem. “It’s like solving a mystery,” she explained. Systems manager Galo Ortiz, who is responsible for keeping the school’s network safe and up to date, added, “Issues can range from something very little like forgetting a password to something as complicated as having no internet access.”
Despite these difficulties, the staff enjoys their work and the camaraderie of the team. As Galo explained, “we are all friendly and share information.” Medha added, “Technology is supposed to help you with your job so being able to assist people that way and teaching them something new is a lot of fun.”
Not only are the members of the department technologically savvy, but they have interests beyond their professional field. Medha is a singer and dancer. After graduating from George Washington University with a minor in theatre, she has been singing for the past fifteen years and dancing for approximately ten. Galo, who played the sport competitively in both America and El Salvador, proudly notes that the last time Heschel’s soccer team won the boys’ varsity soccer championship in 2007, he was the coach.