InspireNOLA’s Tech Team

InspireNOLA’s Tech Team keeps students and staff connected for success
Posted on 05/12/2021

Though the school year may be coming to a close, InspireNOLA Charter School’s Technology Team continues to make sure students have the technology needed to succeed.

In the last few weeks, the team of nine has imaged, inventoried, tagged, and prepared nearly 1500 new Chromebooks and 135 charging carts, in addition to the already existing inventory, to ensure that all nearly 6,000 InspireNOLA students had the technology they needed for end of year testing. 

team working on setup“We call this Team Blitzing,” said InspireNOLA Senior Technology Manager Wilson Cole as he and his team gathered after hours at 42 Charter to ready the new equipment for LEAP testing. “We all go to one school at a time and make sure everything is properly prepared and ready for students.”

“The scholars are depending on us. This is the motivation that drives the success of the Technology Department,” Cole said, adding, “we are the spice to the secret sauce.” 

The team understands how vital their roles are to the student’s success, especially in a time of virtual learning.

“We literally service everything,” McDonogh 35’s Technology Coordinator Nathan Albert said. “Along with catering to students who need it the most assistance now, we support parents and our staff.”

And thanks to federal CARES money, InspireNOLA is now able to provide 1-to-1 technology for all students, ensuring the equitable access to technology and the Internet scholars deserve.

“The choice to dedicate CARES Act funds to become 1-to-1 with technology, ensuring each student has a Chromebook or iPad and a hotspot for free or discounted internet service, is a great accomplishment.  It is a huge step towards closing the ‘digital divide,’ opportunity gap, and achievement gap,” said Samara Miller, InspireNOLA’s Director of School Culture and Quality. “Students are now able to build their digital competencies like their peers, and the use of technology helps prepare students for the workforce of the future/digital workplaces of the future.”

Mr. LewisKeith Lewis, Eleanor McMain’s Technology Coordinator, said their team plays a part in forming the foundation for educational roots.

“We give students the technological support they need so that they are able to keep moving forward and not fall behind,” he said.

Miller agreed, adding, “Access to technology/devices and the internet for thousands of black and brown students will unleash more learning opportunities and unlimited potential for success.”

The IT team faced several challenges the last 15 months when the pandemic closed schools with little notice. InspireNOLA, and the nation as a whole, was faced with navigating education in a virtual world, one in which the discrepancies in equitable access to technology was becoming more apparent.

“COVID brought a huge learning curve for parents, teachers and students, but also for us,” Alice Harte’s Technology Coordinator Notsha Albert said.

Eisenhower Technology Coordinator Yazid Rabahi agreed, adding, “The challenges grew more with COVID19 when technology became the only tool that connected teachers with students and parents.”

Within days, the InspireNOLA Tech Team made sure both students and staff had the technology needed to pivot to virtual learning in a way that would continue to ensure the delivery of quality instruction expected from the network.

Rabahi said that the Tech Team was the cement that keeps everybody confident in believing that the power of technology would help them fullfil their job.

“We became a crisis team,” Pierre Capdau Technology Coordinator Codi Sullivan said. “Our presence helps others be calm when tech issues arise.”

InspireNOLA’s Chief Academic Officer Dr. Wylene Sorapuru said that though the pandemic “halted student’s educational experiences as we have historically known it,” the Tech Team “responded with urgency to the challenge to educate our scholars at all costs” and ensure our teachers had the technology and skillset to deliver excellent instruction.

“As our system transitioned into remote learning, it was vital that equitable access to instruction existed. This meant providing technology for each student. Additionally, to close the digital divide, we ensured internet connectivity and daily student trainings on use of technological applications,” she said. “It was due to aggressive action by our technology team, along with leaders, faculty and staff, that we can proudly state, one year from school closure, learning for scholars never ceased. This accomplishment is to be commended.”

In the last year, the team said they’ve seen students make incredible growth with technology.

“A lot of them truly became very advanced,” Notsha Alberts said. “We have a couple of computer geniuses in our InspireNOLA Network.”

In addition to supporting all technology and related devices in the schools, the Tech Team also provides faculty and staff support and training for hardware and software and most also teach classes as well. Lewis teaches photography and digital media in addition to technology classes, and Rabahi has been an educator for the last 32 years.   

“I taught English as a second language, French as a foreign language and Arabic as a foreign language as well as technology to teachers,” he said. This year, he teaches nine classes a week to kindergarten through second grade.

“We’re helping provide advanced skills, marketable skills for these students’ futures,” Lewis said. “A lot of students were already proficient with their phones, but now they are getting real-world skills using these devices and technology.”

IT teamAndrew Wilson’s Tech Coordinator Jelisa T. Greenwood began as a computer teacher and still teaches kindergarten through 8th grade.  

“It's a challenge, but the faculty, staff and scholars depend on me every day,” she said. “In reality, it doesn't just stop at tech; it goes beyond. I'm a teacher, counselor and always a listening ear.”

In the end, it always comes back to the children with this team.

“I believe the kids are out future,” Greenwood said. “The foundation that was set for me, I want to set it also for the youth.”  
“We’re on the threshold of what we can accomplish as a group here and as an organization with technology,” Lewis said. “We’re looking to the future because technology is never going away.”