The Power of Open in Education


Penn Manor: The Power of Open in Education, a short documentary produced by Red Hat Films, premiered on the opening night of Red Hat Summit 2015. The film features our current and former student help desk apprentices, teachers, and staff. Footage and interviews were shot during a whirlwind three day filming schedule in May 2015.

A huge thank you to the Red Hat Creative Strategy + Design team: Brett Abramsky, Elisabeth Effron, Rachel Rooney, and everyone at Red Hat. Your support for our students and teachers is deeply appreciated. The film is gorgeous, and a moving testament to how open learning communities help students reach new heights.


B is for Bandwidth

Blazing, brisk, breakneck, blistering–these words now describe Penn Manor’s Internet connection. The district just completed the installation of a new high speed network circuit that provides up to 1 Gigabit of Internet bandwidth. With 10 times more speed than before, the new circuit will help students and staff reach the online resources they need, without a wait.

Internet service is supplied by the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER), a state-wide organization devoted to fostering collaboration through technology for education, research, healthcare, libraries, workforce development, government, and economic development. KINBER built and manages the 1,800-mile Pennsylvania Research and Education Network, known as PennREN. Dozes of Pennsylvania colleges and universities, as well as all 14 PA State System of Higher Education Universities are connected via PennREN.

PennRen LogoPenn Manor High School’s new network connection transverses Millersville University‘s campus to reach the PennREN interconnection. The circuit travels along fiber cabling originally installed 15 years ago as part of a technology partnership between Penn Manor and MU.

Before the upgrade, total district Internet bandwidth was limited to 100Mbs, which is roughly three times that of an average home cable modem connection. As district technology programs expanded, the old connection was simply incapable of handling the instructional and operational needs of 5200 students and 700 staff. A tenfold increase in network speed provides a much needed boost for instructional video and other bandwidth intensive web services.

We’re thrilled to partner with KINBER, and I’m exited about the new learning opportunities available via high speed connectivity and bountiful bandwidth!



Middle School Laptop Program Parent FAQ

The parent information forum on the 1:1 Laptop Learning Program was held at Marticville Middle School on Wednesday May 13, 2015. Over 50 parents and students attended the session, which covered details of the August laptop distribution, student expectations, and classroom goals. A document summarizing frequently asked questions and concerns was made available to attendees. If you missed the session, grab the Laptop Program FAQ here. Additional resources, including the laptop policy, parent agreement form, and best practices guide are also available.

For the 2015-16 school year, all middle school students will receive a laptop computer for personal use in school and at home. The 1:1 program is designed to expand students’ access to resources that will enhance their personal intellectual development and help them construct knowledge for life after high school in a changing world. Penn Manor High School launched a laptop learning program during the 2013-14 school year. The district is excited to expand the program to all middle school students.

Shawn Beard Honored as Outstanding Employee

Shawn Beard, Penn Manor’s Enterprise Systems Engineer, was recently honored as an outstanding district employee for 2015.

Shawn’s is a somewhat elusive member of the PM Technology Team. His day-to-day tasks are often performed behind the curtain–but without him, we’d notice. Shawn is responsible for managing and maintaining our most complex and critical technical infrastructure. He diligently and expertly wrangles district networks and servers, and solves our toughest engineering issues. We call this stuff virtualization, IP routing, DNS, firewall rules, and SSL. To students and staff it means: “Hurray, the Internet is working!”

Shawn joined my team in the fall of 2000, and he has been instrumental in the design and launch of nearly every major IT system at Penn Manor. I have tremendous admiration for Shawn as a colleague and technologist. Year after year, he sets new records for technical excellence. He is incessantly innovative, and his work translates into outstanding learning experiences for our students. I’m so proud that he has been an integral part of my team, and the Penn Manor family, for the past 15 years. Cheers to my IT partner, Shawn Beard!

Three other district rock stars were also recognized. Amy Wiggins, Central Manor fourth-grade teacher, and Melissa McMichael, high school special-education teacher, were honored as Outstanding Educators of the Year. Dottie Bleacher, Marticville Middle School secretary, was named Outstanding Secondary Employee of the Year. Congratulations to this amazing group!

Student Linux Laptops Presentation

At our March IU13 Technology Directors meeting, I joined several district colleagues for a sharing session on student 1:1 programs. The discussion was titled: “1:1 Implementation: Choosing the Right Device”. I spoke about our Penn Manor’s guiding principles, open source philosophy, student apprenticeship help desk program, and how Linux offers unique learning options for students and teachers.

Slides from my potion of the talk are online here.

For those who inquired about the presentation format, the slides were created in reveal.js, an amazing HTML/CSS framework for building attractive presentations.

Join the Penn Manor IT Team

We are seeking a department program assistant and a school tech support specialist.

Program Assistant
You will provide administrative, clerical, and customer service support to ensure the effective day-to-day operation of the IT department. Duties include phone assistance, digital record keeping, 1:1 laptop program and child registration clerical support, scheduling, ordering, and general office functions. You’ll support our department with strong organizational skills, diplomacy, and the confidence to manage a variety of tasks and assignments.

A high school diploma is required and secretarial experience is preferred, especially in a school or technology setting. You’ll work with the internal IT team, as well as students, teachers and parents. Excellent customer service abilities, superior communication skills and a self-driven work ethic are essential.

This full-time position is based in the district office and will report to the IT Director. The starting salary is 32K.
Job description: Tech Program Assistant.

Support Specialist
As a building technology support specialist, staff and students will rely on you for friendly help and assistance. You will install, maintain and troubleshoot hardware and software in a complex, multi-platform, mixed-vendor academic setting. Penn Manor’s learning technology mix is 25% Mac, 50% Linux (Ubuntu) and 25% Windows. Automation is crucial to our work. We regularly use Puppet, Casper, and Windows Deployment Services to help our small team manage a huge number of classroom devices.

Excellent customer service abilities, superior communication skills and a self-driven work ethic are essential. A degree in a related field, 2 to 3 years Mac, Linux and Windows support experience, and a desire to create exceptional classroom support experiences are required.

This full-time position will support district elementary schools. The starting salary is 41K, commensurate with relevant experience.
Job description: Technology Support Specialist.

To apply: Email a PDF cover letter, resume, and salary requirements to Charlie Reisinger, Technology Director, Penn Manor School District: Be sure to include the position you are applying for in the subject line.

Serious applicants should review our guiding principles to better understand our team values and expectations.

Application deadline for all position: April 7, 2015.