Posted: Friday, November 16, 2018
GCS Celebrates American Education Week 2018 - District Staff
District Staff Appreciation Day
The safety of students and staff is the number one priority of Executive Director for Education Technology Services Bill Brown. He and his team work around the clock to ensure that students and staff are protected from online predators and scammers when they are using district devices.
Brown and his staff present about 300 Internet Safety classes each year. In its fifth year, they have evidence that students are listening and the program is working.
“We were in a school recently and a student said, ‘I learned from you guys not to talk to strangers online. So when somebody tried to talk to me online, I went and told my mom,’” said Brown. “You don’t know what could have happened if that student had continued talking to that stranger. You can’t always tell the performance metric or a success rate of an Internet safety class, but knowing in your heart that at least one suicide was prevented or one child predator was stopped is enough. You only need one.”
Brown has been in the industry for 40 years. He was the co-founder of Digital-DNS, a technology consulting company, before joining Greenville County Schools 12 years ago. “The primary reason I am here with the district is because I was tired of making other people rich,” he said. “When you work for a consulting company you report to the chairman of the board or the president, and they’re investing in the company, so your hard work is making people rich. I want to make a difference.”
Greenville County Schools has one of the largest Information Technology infrastructures in the state with over 150,000 computers, printers, network devices installed and growing each day. Our IT Department is staffed with 63 full-time professionals. “The most important skill necessary for my team is customer service,” said Brown. “They have several hundred years of combined experience and they are the first I go to for advice on solving a problem.”
One area of which Brown is particularly proud is the development and sharing of software across the state to increase schools’ efficiencies. “There are a lot of districts in the state that don’t have the staff to do what we can do in Greenville County. So we’re packaging everything up to share with other districts to not only increase our efficiency but to increase theirs as well,” he explained.
Brown describes himself as a lifelong learner, spending considerable amount of reading. “There are several thousand books in my house right now,” he said. When he’s not at work with the district, Brown volunteers in the South Carolina State Guard as a Project NCO assigned to the Cyber/intelligence Detachment, Headquarters Division and is a beekeeper.
Technological Advances Initiated by Bill Brown
- WiFi on all school buses, providing additional hours each day for student learning
- A new car line dismissal system that tracks car rides, walkers, bus riders, and extended day car riders to record dismissal time and name of the person picking up the child
- A new visitor and volunteer system that conducts a criminal background check for those who will have one-on-one contact with children
- Chromebooks on buses, allowing bus drivers to log their hours and attendance and increasing the efficiency of the system by 95 percent
Shawn Torres, Greenville County Schools Chef
Shawn Torres is new to Greenville County Schools, in his second year as District Chef, but he is not new to food service. “I started at age 14 out of pure necessity for a paycheck,” he says, “and then it turned into a hobby and eventually developed into my passion.” Chef Torres feels fortunate to have found his passion at a young age.
As District Chef Torres works in the test kitchen to develop new recipes to serve to 76,000 students each day. He has helped school staff introduce a Philly Cheesesteak sub, a wing bar, a mac and cheese bar, St. Louis Style ribs, Prime Rib Sliders and jerk chicken with plantains. Torres says, “We have individuals in our industry who are pushing the limits, for some reason school food has been brushed over, but we are here to change that. We are here to bring a higher standard and provide our students with the meals they deserve.”
Torres supervises intensive skills training for cafeteria staff in the summer. During the school year he travels between schools to work one on one with employees. “Everything that we do here each and every day is fulfilling. Each day we have an opportunity to change the lives of students, to change their eating habits, give them a different outlook on what food is supposed to be, how food should taste,” Torres says.
Twice a month Torres teaches cooking lessons to special needs students. “Having Shawn in here is really cool because he shows our kids they are able to do a whole bunch of stuff and he treats them just like any other child which I really love. He gives them the opportunity to make the recipe and then he sends it home so the students can make it with their parents.”