Joe Locke | UF Superior Accomplishment Award

March 4, 2021

Locke_SuperiorAccomplishmentP.K. Yonge is pleased to announce that school network administrator, Joe Locke, has received the University of Florida’s Superior Accomplishment Award. During his more than 20-year tenure at P.K. Yonge, Joe has managed P.K. Yonge’s network and equipment from its humble beginnings with 150 desktop computers sprinkled throughout campus to a robust wireless infrastructure supporting the demands of more than 1,500 devices streaming content throughout the school day. Most recently, Joe’s work ensured that school continued for the P.K. Yonge community as we navigated the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joe’s work at P.K. Yonge has always been notable, and his commitment to his work and to our campus community in the context of our school’s response to the pandemic has been extraordinary. When the potential for a shift to remote learning appeared imminent, Joe’s efforts quickly turned to researching solutions and problem-solving potential barriers to providing the infrastructure and devices required for at-home instruction for all 1,155 students at P.K. Yonge —  from how to prepare and distribute 348 devices for at-home elementary school learners in two days, to locating devices for staff to use from home, supporting faculty, filtering student internet access remotely, and finding solutions for inadequate home internet access.

Once the Florida Department of Education announced campus closures in March 2020, Joe’s plans went into action. Hours extended well beyond the end of the work day to accommodate working families’ schedules and connect learners with equipment essential to continue their learning and maintain contact with their school community. With the mass and rapid deployment  for devices a success and VirtuallyPK launched, work after Spring Break began for Joe in maintaining systems and supporting faculty and staff as all work and tech support shifted to a remote model. Ticketing systems that Joe had already established came into their own, and even with a faculty help ticket increase of 300% the system provided responsive and timely support.

The logical flip side to a mass device deployment in a school is a mass intake. Each year, the more than 1,100 devices distributed 1:1 for students from 6th – 12th grade are brought back to the IT department for evaluation, repair, and updates. At the end of the very demanding 2020-21 school year, devices needed to be returned, but this time via a drive-thru drop-off system with the essential addition of COVID-19 protocols. Devices were delivered in June, updated over the summer, and returned for student use in August 2020. Joe and his team worked tirelessly to prepare devices and manage another deployment for more than 800 families with every device updated, repaired, documented and assigned to an individual user.

With remnants of the device deployment and troubleshooting ongoing, the 2020-21 school year began with significant demand on the school network and the need for an organized system for addressing device and connectivity issues for on-campus and off-campus students, teachers, and staff. Joe and the IT team also continued to address all of the regular day-to-day responsibilities of the IT department– managing the email system, the campus network and wireless infrastructure, device security, internet filters, the campus asset inventory, device repair and replacement, vendor relationships, school community tech support, and more.

We are so pleased that Joe’s invaluable commitment to P.K. Yonge has been recognized in the form of a University of Florida’s Superior Accomplishment Award. As we continue the 2020-21 school year, we continue to rely on Joe’s expertise and commitment with awareness and appreciation for his current work and with renewed gratitude for prior work in setting the stage for a system and infrastructure that made our shift to Virtually P.K. a success. As a school community we offer our congratulations to Joe on his award and our deepest gratitude for providing the Blue Wave community the infrastructure and tools to continue school and remain connected to each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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