Contest Applicants: The Unlikely Heroes of K-12

digital learning and makeover contest

If ever there has been a time when our schools have needed a helping hand, this last year must surely rank near the top. Since 2016, one of the ways Schneider Electric tries to be that helping hand is with its APC K-12 Makeover Contest. For years, this contest has helped schools clean up their IT gear and deliver on their promise of giving kids a high-quality, interactive learning experience.

Like schools and districts everywhere, the 2020 APC K-12 Makeover Contest winner, New Haven Public Schools (NHPS), has been heavily impacted by the pandemic. With classrooms shuttered, the district suddenly had to support some 30,000 users as they shifted to working or learning offsite for the first time. In the face of this transition—and with multiple areas already encumbered by outdated equipment, chaotic wiring closets, unracked servers, makeshift air handlers, and other issues—it was clear to us that NHPS would be a worthy recipient of the contest’s $10,000 prize.

As we were working with NHPS on their award—eight APC Smart-UPS™ systems with Network Cards, delivered by Whalley Computer Associates, an APC partner—it occurred to us that the district was exactly the kind of environment for whom we created EcoStruxure™ IT software with Monitoring & Dispatch Services. This solution offers 24/7 remote monitoring by Schneider Electric Connected Services Hub to deliver proactive troubleshooting and resolution, as well as on-site support. It is ideally suited to geographically dispersed sites with limited or no IT staff.

Bill Zesner, Supervisor of Network Services at NHPS, had told us, “I don’t have the manpower to monitor the UPSs in the 50 school buildings I manage. By the time I know there’s a problem with a UPS, the batteries go bad.”

“School districts shouldn’t need to worry about technology issues like whether the UPS is going to work or not,” says Larry Hann, Channel Digital Services Director, Schneider Electric.

“Our ultimate objective is to take that off the plate for them, so that they can focus on what really matters—providing the content and experiences that help our kids learn along their education journey as they become our next future leaders.”

You can guess where this is going. We ended up adding EcoStruxure IT software with Monitoring & Dispatch Services to the rest of the prize package for NHPS!

“Monitoring & Dispatch Services will allow for a better response time during UPS power loss or failure within the school district,” says Gilda Herrera, IT Director at NHPS. “Our network is the unsung hero which maintains this information highway and interconnection between students, parents, teachers, and administration and it must be protected.”

L to R: Dave Gondek, Delivery Driver, Whalley Computer Associates; Chris Ledoux, Account Executive, Whalley Computer Associates; Jay Bogosian, Public Sector Channel Director, APC by Schneider Electric; Joel Littlefield, New England Channel Manager, APC by Schneider Electric; Dana Voelker, Channel Marketing Specialist, APC by Schneider Electric; Lauren Strillacci, Grant Writer, New Haven Public Schools; Dr. Iline Tracey, Superintendent, New Haven Public Schools; Gilda Herrera, IT Director, New Haven Public Schools

Months after the new equipment and services were installed, you can be sure people are still singing Lauren Strillacci’s praises across New Haven. (She’s the NHPS Grant Writer that submitted her district’s application.) And you—a trusted partner and advisor to K-12 schools—could be the next hero. Take a minute to nominate your K-12 clients for the 2021 APC K-12 Makeover Contest—now awarding $25,000 of IT equipment upgrades! The contest ends on October 31, 2021, so make those entries soon. It all starts with a picture or video of the school’s messy, disorganized, or chaotic server room. Something you’ve likely seen far too many of, and something it gives us all great pleasure to eliminate.