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Ten Minutes with…Frank Podrebarac

Position:  Lead Service Desk Engineer

Local Assn:  Albemarle Education Association

Years worked in education: I have been involved in education since 1997. I started with a private company in central Minnesota, where I provided technology services for school districts that did not have in-house tech support or just needed additional assistance. From there I went to Bemidji State University (also in Minnesota) as the computer manager and handled the IT needs of the faculty and staff.  In a roundabout way, I ended up here in Virginia working for Albemarle County Public Schools, where I continue to support public-school educators in our county with their technology needs.

What is a typical school day like for you?
Well, I am no longer in a school building but I do support all 26 schools in Albemarle County.  Our office is located adjacent to one of our high school campuses. I am in by 7:30 am to be available for anyone with a problem or question first thing in the morning.  My group is responsible for configuring all the computers in the schools, assigning service desk tickets to field staff and managing all the software licenses for county schools.  We work with 12 field-based staff to support each school and hopefully make everyone’s life a little easier. Every day is a little different with new challenges and strange behavior from the computers, the software and, dare I say, the end users.

What do you like about your job?
 I really enjoy the people I get to work with, both here in our office and in the schools. They are bright, fun and energetic.  We’re always looking for ways to keep technology in front of students and support teachers in making the best use of it. I like when I’m able to help someone solve a problem and explain why and how it was done.

We recently installed a new large storage array that we are getting ready to implement, we updated our exchange server over the summer, and we are getting ready to update our Blackboard environment.  There is always a good feeling when a major upgrade goes well and the end user doesn’t even realize that we did anything. All they know is that it just works better.

What is hard about your job?
The hardest part of my job is trying to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology. There is always a new software package to evaluate or new hardware to test and see if it will do what we need it to do. Once the new hardware or software is purchased, we need to get it installed and work with other members of our team to develop training so folks can put the programs to use in their classrooms.

How has being an Association member been helpful to you?
I have really enjoyed meeting people from all over the state at the VEA convention, Reggie Smith Organizing School, and other training events. Also, the training I get there is useful for more than just Association business—it helps with day-to-day life and in working with all people.  Being president of AEA has had the benefit of forcing me to plan and organize meetings and to be better prepared (my wife may not agree).  I am getting to be at least ‘okay’ with creating agendas and running meetings.  I see that as helpful with other aspects of my life.

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