Nevada Schools’ new director of technology pretty much always knew that working with computers was what he wanted to do.
“My dad was an IT manager for Frigidaire, so we always had computers around for me to play on,” said Joe Wakeman, 25, who started work in the Nevada School District on May 1, replacing longtime technology director Ann Malven.
Wakeman started his own business, selling and repairing computers, when he was just 7 years old. He started working for the Webster City Community Schools, which he was attending, when he was a junior in high school. “I started working summers for the school’s technology department … and continued on until I was hired full time in 2010. That is where I got my start in education technology,” he said.
Wakeman, who grew up in the small town of Duncombe, attended Iowa Central Community College and UNI, studying computer technology.
While working for the Webster City Community Schools, Wakeman led technology integration efforts, began planning for a pre-K through 12th grade 1:1 program, set up a pilot 1:1 program in the district, established a virtual reality program at the high school, established a 1:1 program for the school that his school shared with (Northeast Hamilton Community Schools), developed and integrated an online learning environment and maintained and updated all district technology.
Since arriving in Nevada, Wakeman has been busy tackling a long list of summer projects, one of which is to set up Central Elementary’s 1:1 program.
The 1:1 programming (referring to students having the use of laptops or tablets for learning) is a big part of Wakeman’s goals at Nevada. He plans to lead a successful 1:1 implementation district-wide, provide seamless integration of technology in the classroom and constantly evaluate new technology to determine what’s best for the district.
“Technology is changing so rapidly, even more so educational technology, so it’s hard to see what will be in store for the next five years, but I do see a continued push for 1:1 learning and the ability for learning, not just to take place in the classroom, but anywhere kids may be,” he said.
While it seems that IT people are often busy with equipment, Wakeman said the most enjoyable part of his career is people. He enjoys working with people to solve a problem or accomplish something new. “I also enjoy seeing new technologies and figuring out how to best use them with the resources we have.”
At the present time, Wakeman is still living in Duncombe and making an hour commute each day. “We are currently in the middle of renovating our 100-year-old home that was a former rectory, and would like to get that finished,” he said.
He and his wife of two years, Kristin (originally from the Waverly area), are also anticipating the birth of their first child, a girl, on Sept. 24. They’ve already chosen a name – Zoey Grace. Zoey will join a cat, Rory and a Corgi dog, Sophie, who are also part of the family.
When he’s not at work or working on his home renovations, Wakeman said he enjoys spending time outside – hunting, fishing, working in the yard or walking in the woods – and he enjoys spending time with family.
Since arriving in Nevada, Wakeman said it’s the people who have made his job enjoyable. “Everyone here has been extremely friendly and welcoming. The staff and students are eager to learn and accomplish new and greater things. It is great to see and a great place to be.”