Michelle DeBoard will replace Bruce Hahn, who has retired from his position

by: KEVIN SPERL - Michelle DeBoard is Crook County School District's new director of technology.

While students and the majority of the teaching staff of the Crook County School District may have the summer off, it is the busiest time of year for Michelle DeBoard's information technology team.

On July 1, DeBoard replaced Bruce Hahn, who has retired, as the director of technology, responsible for the infrastructure of the district's computer, voice and data networks.

DeBoard can only hope to follow in Hahn's footsteps.

“Bruce was a great asset and a very patient, quiet and intelligent leader,” said DeBoard. “He has left a legacy here for me and I hope to make him proud.”

The department is busy planning for next year, performing equipment maintenance, adding access points, getting laptops ready, and cleaning and configuring lab classrooms.

“It's like building a house,” DeBoard said of the school's computer network. “You must build a strong foundation before you build the walls. If 30 students in a class all open their notebooks at the same time and it takes them 20 minutes to load software, you have wasted their time.”

Born in Mt. Clemens, Mich., DeBoard grew up in Newark, Calif., before moving to the Hood River area in 1994, due to her love of the mountains and forests.

It was there that DeBoard met her husband, Jim, a Prineville native who had also moved to Hood River after finishing high school in town.

“We had been dating for a few years when, due to his mother's illness, we were convinced to return to Prineville in 2002,” explained DeBoard.

DeBoard and her husband have been married for the past eight years, observing their anniversary on July 4, something DeBoard claims to have done on purpose so that she would be guaranteed fireworks every year.

Her husband works for Les Schwab as a lead technician, where he has been employed for 27 years.

A blended family, the couple have five children and five grandchildren — a “small tribe,” as DeBoard likes to refer to them, who, in their spare time, enjoys horseback riding, boating and camping.

Educated at Portland Community College and having earned a number of industry certifications, DeBoard is a network and wireless engineer who has worked in support of computer networks at Prineville's BLM office, the Oregon Judicial Department in Bend, and, most recently, at all four campuses of the St. Charles hospital network.

When the director position became available within the school district, DeBoard knew she wanted to be a part of the the educational process.

“I have kids myself so education is extremely important to me, and I know the district does a lot of great things for kids,” she said.

DeBoard understands, and is ready to embrace, the challenge of integrating a student's everyday use of technology into their education.

“Kids don’t want to carry around books anymore and devices are getting lighter and more portable,” she said. “They are getting their information through social networks and we need to leverage that into appropriate areas for a good education.”

DeBoard said that today's job market demands knowledge of technology regardless of a student's chosen field and she wants graduates of Crook County to be prepared.

DeBoard likened today’s technology to the way libraries used to be embraced in the schools.

“The library used to be the only place to learn, but today the average person owns two to three wireless devices,” she said. “We need to invest in mobility and a student's instant access to information.”

DeBoard is hoping to continue to enhance the school's ability to integrate mobile technology into the curriculum, despite the inherent limitation of education budgets. DeBoard recognizes, however, the district's ability to obtain outside grants, especially from Facebook, and she looks to continue that trend.

With the academic budget already set for the upcoming school year, DeBoard is taking the opportunity to listen and learn, absorbing the surroundings and identifying new opportunities.

“I haven’t been here long enough to have the weight of the job fall on me, but I know it is coming,” she laughed.

Two projects that DeBoard already has her eyes on are is increasing the number of available Chromebook computers at all grade levels and designing and building the technical infrastructure for the new Barnes Butte Elementary School, scheduled to open in the fall of 2015.

“I’m here to do the best I can for the community and for the kids,” she said. “We have great kids and I am excited to be a part of the district.”

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