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The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont

Common Ground

The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont

Common Ground

Navigating Tech Troubles: A Closer Look at Harwood’s IT Support System

Photo Credit: Jasper Mayone

Do people at Harwood know what to do with their tech issues? As someone who is often found working in the tech office, if something breaks I usually know what to do or who to talk to, but I often find myself wondering if others have the same knowledge.

At Harwood, most classes have basic  technological requirements, such as having a device to access resources like Google Classroom. According to the technology page on the Harwood website, at Harwood, we have a 1:1 device policy. 

In the fall of 2013, Harwood Union Middle School began a 1:1 iPad program with all 7th & 8th grade students. This program was made possible by a partnership with the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education at the University of Vermont. In the fall of 2014, our 1:1 iPad program expanded and continued to the 9th grade, and the following year 10th grade students were issued Chromebooks.

 The 2016-2017 school year marked the beginning of a complete 1:1 student device program at Harwood Union. Essentially this means that any student at Harwood has access to a chromebook while they are a student. However, not all students choose to use their chromebooks. 

Based on a poll of Harwood Students, over 60% surveyed are unhappy about their student chromebook. Most people complain of broken keys, blocked sites/videos, or poor network connectivity.

Most people also bring their personal devices to school. Overall, the devices add up to a considerable number of things connected to our school’s network. Responsible for managing all the district networks is Jason Hyerstay, the district’s network systems administrator.

For broken keys or other hardware issues, Justin Griffith is the person to talk to. “Some of the most issues I see on Chromebooks are broken screens, usually from being dropped or rough handled in backpacks.” says Justin. “My role is the Technology support specialist for the whole district. In this role I do just about anything tech related that comes up. I’d say my favorite part of my job is getting to work with students and staff (some that even taught me) with their technology needs, and show them new skills or troubleshooting steps. If my door is open you’re always welcome to stop in and say hi or ask any questions, no question is too small!”

The third and final person who represents the IT department specifically at Harwood, who’s also responsible for blocked sites/videos, is Curtis Siegmann. Curtis is the Technology Coordinator for Education, and is responsible for making sure that the tech we have is accessible to everyone. “ I do a lot of work making sure both students and staff can use the technology we offer.”  Curtis says, “My most favorite part is when I complete a job or a task and the end result is something that makes someone’s life a little more bearable or easier because a problem was solved with a technological process/procedure or other tools.”

Beyond Harwood, key people involved on a district level include Shannon Lessley, Director of Curriculum and Technology; Nathan Gingras, Assistant Director of Education Technology; and Phil Hayes, Systems Administrator.

The big question is, what should we do with our tech issues? While procedures exist,  in general a good first step is to talk to Justin in the tech office. This is the best option for repairs and simple troubleshooting. 

Another encouraged method for support is to submit a tech ticket at This is the best option for network problems, google account help, or getting something unblocked on the school firewall. 

Rules are also in place around device repairs. For example, devices must be turned into an authorized member of the HUUSD IT department; all devices must have their original asset tag present; repairs must be documented in the ticket system; and only HUUSD IT personnel are authorized to repair District-issued devices. 

Harwood IT may also charge a repair fee for your device based on the severity of the damage, or the amount of time needed for the repair. The IT department has a standard way of calculating fees, such as if you need a replacement charger, they charge you $25, and if you have a cracked/broken screen it’s $50.

Overall, technology isn’t going anywhere, because it plays a vital part in today’s education systems. While chromebooks may not be the best, and the internet might suck sometimes, we are fortunate for what we have and there are resources available for support.

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