March 15, 2024

In the public eye: RSU 14 Technology Director facilitates digital advances, learning opportunities for students

Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

By Ed Pierce

For RSU 14’s Robert Hickey, continuing advances in technology bring students together while creating opportunities for learning and growth and staying out in front of evolving trends and innovations is something he takes seriously.

Robert Hickey is the Technology Director for RSU 14 and has
worked for the school district for the past 20 years. Among
his duties, he oversees RSU 14's computers and tech support
for all staff and students and supervises the district's customized
database of data and reports, and a sophisticated network
including virtual servers. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
Hickey serves as RSU 14’s Technology Director and it’s a complex position that is much more than just software, data, and computer devices.

“My job is to do everything possible to help technology support the education process,” Hickey said. “I supervise an incredible staff which accomplishes technology support of 1:1 computers, iPads and MacBook Airs for all staff and students, plus support financial technology for office users, customized database of data and reports, and a sophisticated network including virtual servers which can support over 3,100 students plus hundreds of staff.”

In his role with the school district, he’s also responsible for budgeting for resources, researching advanced technology initiatives and trends and works with a collaborative group called the InfoTech Committee consisting of school administrators, teachers, library professionals, tech folks, and many other staff.

“As we move ahead, it is a well-planned effort incorporating all stakeholders to research and determine which technology trends we should leverage for support of education,” Hickey said.

He’s worked for RSU 14 for 20 years, having started in 2004 when the newly renovated Windham High School was first opened.

Born in Saratoga Springs, New York, Hickey has lived in Maine most of his life and says this is the state he loves. He attended elementary school in Portland, then graduated from Cheverus High School and went to college at the University of Southern Maine in Portland where he earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Administration and Computer Science.

He says the best part of his job is simple.

“Considering all the technology I deal with, the best thing about my job is the people,” Hickey said. “The caring, dedication and positive support for the students, the staff and the community is all a collaborative effort from all RSU staff plus community members. The most important thing I have learned while working for RSU 14 is the most important thing in the world is people. They are the center of everything and there is nothing more important.”

According to Hickey, the most challenging aspect of his job is trying to keep on top of all the technology changes as technology is growing at an exponential rate and the current and future impacts and opportunities of things such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cyber security, and automation are virtually unlimited.

A common misconception about his work is the assumption that a K-12 School District cannot be that sophisticated.

“But we're using the same advanced technology that a business with almost 4,000 employees needs to do,” Hickey said. “This would include a network with VLANs, remote access, cloud and local data management, customized database reports, helpdesk for students and staff who could have issues with their devices, software, and mobile devices, etc.”

His most memorable moments working for RSU 14 took place during the initial year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It changed everything and everyone. The tech department needed to suddenly begin supporting a large-scale increase of remote access,” Hickey said. “RSU 14 remote instruction was spun up by the Curriculum Department working with teachers, technology integrators and many other staff. ZOOM, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are now common terms and more dependence on cloud-hosted solutions were long term opportunities but were started under the parameters of necessity. The future was thrust upon everyone at an accelerated pace.”

Hickey said the public may not be aware that it has really helped him to have a background in technical management, regular programming, programming with web pages, SQL database, and networking to his duties with the school district.

“Although I have a considerable background, I must let folks know that I stand on the shoulders of greatness. I would not be successful without the incredibly talented tech staff, supportive administrators, dedicated teachers and support staff and supportive community members,” he said. “And last, but definitely not least, are the students. They are living in the most dynamic time which has ever occurred to any generation in history, and they are doing great things and will continue to do so.” <

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