"We're bringing learning into the 21st century a little more. We are constantly working to make improvements to make things even better."
Kingsley Area Schools' technology department has been busy, squeezing years of tech upgrades and infrastructure maintenance into just a few months.
This summer, technology specialists Marcia Inman and Nik VanWagner are working to install new classroom and building equipment that will modernize Kingsley's classrooms, increase connectivity and strengthen building and cyber security.
Read on to see what new tech is coming to campus this fall.
New Teacher Tech: laptops, projectors, document cameras and docking stations
Classroom tech has undergone an intensive makeover this school year and summer. Marcia and Nik replaced all of the desktops, which were 10 years old, with sleeker, bigger, faster computer systems and also added laptops and docking stations to every classroom.
Each classroom now has upgraded projectors and document cameras.
"The laptops and docking stations will allow teachers to move their education environment to different places. They'll be able to take a class outside, or to the gym or library, while still staying connected and able to pull things up," said Nik. "Since the new projectors are everywhere, too, they can just take their computer and plug in somewhere else."
The district has invested in 400 new Chromebooks plus new Chromebook carts, so that every student will be able to use them during class time. Kindergarteners will be provided with special touchscreen versions.
New Door Security Systems & Cameras
125 new security cameras were installed at all three schools plus the Central Office, transportation department, and athletic fields.
Last fall, the district also implemented a buzz-in security system at every school door. Community members, parents, and students, now have to use a camera doorbell admittance system to gain admittance.
New Network Infrastructure and Security
The district's old hardware made it impossible to upgrade to the latest software, including advanced security and anti-virus protection. Now that all of the computers are being replaced, Kingsley Area Schools will have state-of-the-art systems and security.
"That's one of the things that would keep me up at night: cyber security! Now, we've got a new firewall that sits at the edge of our network and kind of monitors everything that goes in and comes or comes out," said Marcia.
Expanded WiFi Coverage
New WiFi access points have been added across campus so that every room and space has connectivity.
"It has longer and better coverage and can support more devices at one time. If teachers want to take their class outside, they'll still get WiFi," said Nik VanWagner.
New iPads for Kindergarten
This year, every Kindergarten room will have six iPads available plus touchscreen Chromebooks.
New Academic Digital Streaming Service
Teachers and students will now be able to access Swank Digital Campus, an online streaming platform with a catalog of 35,000 movie titles for use in the classroom and school.
A New Face
New technology specialist and 2022 Kingsley High School graduate Nik VanWagner joined the IT department full-time in Spring 2023, but he has been training for his role for a long time.
"In high school, I was the 'call-him-before-calling-the-tech-guy' student for a while. A few teachers, if they had a problem, knew my schedule and they'd call my teacher and say 'Hey, can you send him down here to fix this?'"
Nik interned with the school's tech team last year and was later offered a full-time role.
"I like waking up every morning and saying okay, this is what I'm going to change today, or, this is what I'm going to make better today. I also like being here full-time because school wasn't my strong point or anything, but I liked the people here,"
KAS Tech Department By The Numbers
2 dedicated specialists working for Kingsley
1,300 IT work tickets resolved per school year
1,500 Chromebooks and users
125 brand new security cameras added at all three schools plus at the transportation department, Central Office, and all the athletic fields
400 new Chromebooks purchased for the Middle and High Schools
35,000 movie titles are available for teachers and students to watch via Swank Digital Campus, the largest academic digital streaming service
Marcia and Nik would like to thank everyone for their patience and support in installing and implementing the new systems.
"All of this would not be possible without the support of Northwest Education services and the supportive administration and staff at Kingsley Area Schools."