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How a Texas School District Maximized Resources with an Innovative Alumni Training Program

by iSphere on January 15, 2024 in Education Sector Content, Education Technology Solutions

Lamar Consolidated Independent School District (CISD), a rapidly growing school district in the heart of Texas, faced a monumental challenge. Their technology infrastructure needed to keep pace with the projections of 69,000 students on 53 campuses sprawled across 385 miles—all by 2030. With their limited IT staff, managing and deploying technology effectively seemed an insurmountable task. Overstretched personnel, competing priorities, and the sheer volume of devices—over 75,000—threatened to impede the district’s mission of delivering quality education to every student.

That’s where iSphere came in. With deep Texas roots and a passion for supporting educational institutions, the technology staffing and solutions provider found itself in prime position to help. Leaders at Lamar CISD wanted to use an innovative strategy to deliver results: hiring alumni and students in their career and technology programs to provide on-campus technology support. The district had used this approach before and wanted iSphere’s help to source, screen, and offer career coaching to these young IT consultants.

This innovative approach aimed to address multiple challenges at once.

It provided immediate relief to the overburdened IT staff. Students familiar with the district would be the boots on the ground, handling routine tasks like device maintenance, user support, and equipment deployments. Freeing up Lamar CISD’s full-time staff allowed them to focus on more strategic initiatives and complex technical issues.

Lamar CISD’s vision extended beyond responding to immediate needs. Leveraging students who were part of the district’s Career and Technology program created a pipeline much like a talent incubator, equipping students with valuable technical skills and real-world experience they would need for future IT careers. Not only did this address the district’s long-term need for skilled personnel, but it also empowered students by opening doors to exciting opportunities that might not have been accessible to them otherwise.

The partnership between Lamar CISD and iSphere represented an investment in the next generation of Texas IT talent. The district trained students in technical disciplines that could help them flourish in a technical career while recruiters from the IT staffing firm helped students and alumni cultivate essential business skills like clear communication, active teamwork, and resourceful problem-solving.

The results of this unique partnership have been nothing short of remarkable. Students, once novices, have become adept at managing large-scale equipment refreshes, tackling projects like the refreshment of 8,100 iPads, 8,000 student laptops, and 4,300 desktops. They have played a crucial role in setting up technology infrastructure at new schools and ensuring seamless deployments across existing campuses.

But the impact goes far beyond statistics. Students have also gained invaluable hands-on experience in various IT areas, from service desk operations and bond project management to hardware deployments, field services, and audio/visual expertise.

“Working with students is different than working with the typical adult workforce,” said Karen Fuller, CETL, Director of Tech Innovation at iSphere. “How you manage students or interns is different than managing typical contractors who have been in the workforce for a while. We help them understand what it means to be on time and stay on task.”

They’ve learned from the best, honed their skills under the guidance of experienced Lamar CISD and iSphere professionals, and emerged equipped to succeed in the tech industry.

“Lamar CISD partners district technical specialist and leaders with student contractors, and we take pride in the individual relationships we foster and introduce students to various areas of IT,” said Robin Stone-Loftin, Director of Technology Support Services at Lamar CISD. “We love seeing those lightbulb moments when students connect with an area that inspires them!”

By identifying and nurturing young IT talent, Lamar CISD and iSphere have created a readily available pool of skilled professionals to support the district’s future technological needs. Lamar CISD’s success fuels the development of its future workforce, and the skills of these future professionals contribute to the district’s education goals progress. It’s a win-win for everyone.

This partnership has created a blueprint for sustainable education technology infrastructure.  Lamar CISD and iSphere not only addressed the district’s immediate challenges but also built a pipeline of skilled professionals, ensuring their continued success and paving the way for a brighter future for students and the greater Houston community as a whole.

Want to learn more details about this innovative student contractor program? Join Robin Stone-Loftin of Lamar CISD and Karen Fuller, CETL, of iSphere for a discussion of this collaboration at FETC 2024 on Friday, January 26 at 10:00AM EST.

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