page top

red arrow bulletNews

Transforming spaces

Jan. 3, 2018

In the Spotlight: Shelley Rossitto and her tech team continue to put Monticello schools on the cutting-edge

Monticello's tech teamShelley Rossitto doesn’t just do her job, a pretty complex one as executive director of Instructional Technology and Professional Development here at the Monticello Central School District. No, Rossitto and her tight-knit tech team have visions of the way things should ultimately be, even while keeping the district up and running every day.

It’s not just the thousands of devices that run in the district each day – from cell phones to every kind of tablet, laptop and desktop. The tech team is also in charge of the entire district phone system, security cameras, door access control, the heat and yes, the electricity. It’s all run through the district’s network.

“Everything that plugs into the wall, we deal with,” said Rossitto.

And even things that aren’t.
Pictured here is Monticello’s tech team, from left, Peter Jockel, Amando Colon,
Ron Devine, Peter Polarski, Kim Gordon, David Schwartz, Tim Mangiaracina, Laura McAndrew,
Dennis Depasquale, David Linton, Maria Curz, Lisa Jamin, Shelley Rossitto and John Larson.

Because of their professionalism, their knowledge, their calmness in the face of emergency – because let’s face it, it’s always an emergency to a user who can’t get on their device – the tech team is the subject of this month’s spotlight.

Most of the tech team has been together for 15 years. There is Maria Cruz, system operator; David Schwartz, network administrator; Amando Colon, network security and back-ups; Ron Devine, data communications engineer; techs Dennis DePasquale, David Linton, Peter Jockel, and Peter Polarski; secretary Laura McAndrew; and John Larson from BOCES. Kim Gordon, Tim Mangiaracina and Lisa Jamin are staff developers who work with teachers to integrate technology into the classrooms.

The newest member is Colon who joined the team about two years ago.

“It’s an interesting blend of different generations,” said Schwartz, who has worked in technology for 30 years. “We all bring different things to the table.”

“We have to think about everybody’s needs,” said Colon. “The challenge is balancing it all, personalizing it. You can’t build systems without some standards but we still have to give people what they need.”

“It’s like a true think tank,” said Schwartz. “We address problems, discuss it and try to come up with a solution so people have what they need to get their job done, get the kids taught and out into the world.”

What makes things even more complex is that the district isn’t on one system. Rossitto explained that many districts have just one system – for example everyone works on Chromebooks. That’s not the way it is here in Monticello.

“In my world, I don’t feel like that’s the best thing,” Rossitto said. “We have iPods, iPads, tablets, desktops Kindles, you name it.”

That is because Rossitto comes from an instructional background and thinks about what’s best for every student.

The district’s technological growth has been incredible. Going back 15 years, there were about 800 computers for the tech team to deal with. Now, Schwartz estimates that about 12,000 devices are hooked into the network. Rossitto thinks it might even be more.

“We don’t have a lot of down time,” said Schwartz.

One of the newest and most exciting endeavors for Rossitto and Gordon has been the creation of a robotics club in the high school. The pair did the research and even secured a $5,000 grant for the team, seed money Rossitto called it, to help this fledgling club grow and bloom.

“We had the idea that we wanted to do this,” said Rossitto. “Kim never worked with robotics or coding before. She reached out to teachers at Sullivan County Community College to learn so she knew what she was doing.”

Gordon is more of a facilitator for the club than a teacher, according to Rossitto.

“These kids are discovering this on their own. Kim provides structure and expectations. She puts it in their hands. The kids really own it.”

In its very first ever competition earlier this month, the robotics team walked away champions.

And the tech team keeps rolling, looking for new opportunities to make the district users’ experiences smooth and more efficient, while keeping their ear to the ground for the next best thing.

“These guys are always thinking of how it can work,” said Rossitto. “They don’t think of why it can’t work. There is an answer to everything. You have to be fearless. We are truly lifelong learners here.”