Technology director Austin Lawrence reflects on time at USD 329

In technology director Austin Lawrence’s nine years at USD329, he oversaw big changes in the technology, including internet improvements and the introduction of iPads.

Lawrence left the district in January for a similar position Hanover.

He had many roles at Wabaunsee. In addition to being IT director, Lawrence coached girls basketball for six years and football for one. He has also helped teachers to decide on curriculum to work with technology.

When Lawrence first arrived, the separate school buildings in the different towns each had their own internet service provider. Lawrence worked to consolidate the system, and now all the schools in the district get service from one tower with one internet provider. Lawrence also played a large role in better equipping the classrooms. The schools went from each having one mobile projector that was rolled from room to room to having projectors in almost every classroom. Each room is also equipped with an Apple TV, a device that makes student’s presentations and other classroom activities easier.

“Austin was a big help when it came to technology. I started around the same time he did and the progress we’ve made has really benefited the students,” journalism teacher Brendan Praeger said.

Originally the schools were all computer-lab-based. “My second year here, the goal was to get every school two computer labs,” Lawrence said. The junior high and middle school also got mobile labs with laptops. In 2014, the district transitioned to the current system of 1-1 technology by giving every student an iPad. “It was just as cost effective to either upgrade the computer labs or give every kid their own device,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence also oversaw security for the district. There are now 75 cameras district wide compared to the original number of only 10, and all buses are equipped with cameras. The phone system was also modified so that instead of having to make a long distance call between school buildings, the phones are all on an extension. Another major change that Lawrence oversaw was the transition from server to cloud. All the student’s documents used to be stored on physical servers. Now, all documents are backed up to the “cloud” using Google.

Currently, the district is working on changing the internet service from the tower to fiber optics, which is a technology that uses glass or plastic threads to transmit data. Fiber internet is faster and less likely to go down in a power outage.

Lawrence’s new position is the District Technology Coordinator at USD 233. The district uses Chromebooks instead of iPads, and Lawrence is excited to learn about new technology. “For IT people that’s always exciting,” Lawrence said, “instead of doing the same thing over and over I get to mess with some new technology.” Lawrence said he looks forward to having the opportunity to write new district policy about technology.

While Lawrence has already started his new position, his wife Cindy, a teacher at Paxico Middle School, will remain until the end of the school year. The couple is also expecting a third child this spring.

Both Austin and Cindy are originally from Hanover, so moving back is significant to them. “We’re moving back home,” Lawrence said. There will be familiar faces at his new job. “I actually get to work with some of my old teachers that I went to high school with,” Lawrence said.

After spending so many years at Wabaunsee, Lawrence said he will miss some things when he leaves, like the small community and the nice facilities at the high school. “Coaching sports was always very enjoyable. I probably won’t have that opportunity up in Hanover,” Lawrence said.

— Eleanor Badeker, @ellybadeker

Technology director, English teacher to leave WHS

Two Wabaunsee staff members will be leaving the district for new opportunities.

Technology director Austin Lawrence announced he is leaving after nine years serving on the Wabaunsee staff. Lawrence accepted a job as I.T. Director at Hanover-Barnes-Linn school district in Hanover, where Lawrence and his wife Cindy are from. They plan to build a house and raise their family there. Cindy, who currently teaches fifth grade math and science at Paxico Middle School, will stay until the end of the school year.

“What I’m excited about with this new job is that it’s basically an opportunity to come in and improve another school district,” Lawrence said.

Although Lawrence is excited about this job opportunity, he says he will miss Wabaunsee greatly.

“The things we go through in life are sometimes bittersweet, and we all have them. This is one of those moments for me. I really cannot put into words how great all of you have been over my nine years here. You are a great group of people to work with and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors,” Lawrence said.

English teacher Laura Delfelder will be attending Veterinary School at Kansas State University this fall. She has wanted to be a vet her entire life, so this was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. She is excited to continue her education, because she really enjoys learning. She’ll be at WHS for the rest of the year.

What Delfelder will miss most about teaching is her students.

“I’m gonna miss my students. That’s like the one thing that makes me almost want to cry thinking about,” Delfelder said

“I’m going to miss my English classes, but can’t wait to move onto the next chapter.”

— Kendyl Bolinder, @BolinderKendyl

WHS hires new librarian

WHS welcomes graduate Whitney Lynch to fill Library/Media Tech position.

Lynch, a 2009 graduate and daughter of Paxico Middle School Social Studies and WHS Cheer coach Cheryl Lewis, has returned to the halls of Wabaunsee to fill the Library/Media Tech position previously held by Heather McCreight. McCreight moved to Wabaunsee Junior High to fill the Library/Media Tech position there.

This is Lynch’s first Library. “I have never been a librarian before,” Lynch said, “but I’m learning.”

Lynch’s favorite memories of Wabaunsee include winning the state championship in softball her sophomore year and cheerleading. Lynch said her hobbies are her kids. “I have three of them,” Lynch said, “They are 9, 5 and 1 so they keep me pretty busy, but I also enjoy reading and sports.”

Lynch enjoys reading Nicholas Sparks books in her free time.

— Hannah Mumpower, @Hlmump01

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