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Nevada district’s technology leadership changing hands

Ann Malven was pictured in the 2010 Nevada High School yearbook (as shown) with members of the “inIT Club.” Helping the students in this club has been one of many ways Malven has contributed to the Nevada Schools.
Ann Malven was pictured in the 2010 Nevada High School yearbook (as shown) with members of the “inIT Club.” Helping the students in this club has been one of many ways Malven has contributed to the Nevada Schools.

After 19 years with the Nevada School District, Ann Malven is ready to retire and leave her post as director of technology. Joe Wakeman, who comes to Nevada from the Webster City School District, will take over as Nevada’s technology director.

Though she wasn’t the Nevada School District’s first technology director, Nevada Superintendent Jim Walker said Malven has played an important role in moving the district forward with technology during the past 19 years, and he said the duties of her position have multiplied through the years as much more equipment has had to be managed.

“Ann has shouldered the changes made to our phone systems, Internet and the issues of dealing with more computers and the amount of bandwidth,” Walker said. He added that Malven has also managed the number of district servers that are needed, and all the data that needs to be collected.

Along with managing equipment, Walker said Malven has done major work in teaching computer classes and assisting with staff development to help teachers learn how to use equipment and software, and to pick out software that is appropriate for use with students.

Malven has also been involved in managing the school’s camera system in the buildings, helping with projectors and smart boards, and assisting the athletic department as it evolved to a new computerized timing system.

And as if all of this wouldn’t keep a person busy enough, Walker said Malven has also been dealing more recently with the newest technology challenge that has to do with running a filtering system in the wake of things like Twitter and Facebook.

“(The filtering system) has been a monster to manage,” Walker said, especially with the high school starting its 1:1 laptop learning initiative this year. “Making sure information is not being compromised by hackers, and also making sure students and staff understand that the information they put on computers is not private, and that inappropriate use can cause repercussions” has all kept Malven very busy in her final months on the job.

No matter how busy Malven is with all the details of managing the district’s technology, those she has worked with have appreciated her willingness to help them with whatever is needed.

Director of School Improvement Nancy Port said Malven seems to know everthing there is to know about technology and if she can’t provide an exact answer to a question, she can always provide a direction for you to look futher.

Port admires Malven’s hard work in getting technology into the hands of students and teachers. “She is always making suggestions and giving teachers the tools they need to go on with their learning. She has required some technology classes for people who want to upgrade their computers - and that was not a bad thing. She wants teachers to be independent in their use of technology, as well as being able to find resources that will work with their students in class. She is constantly looking for apps and software that will be good for kids and useful for teachers.”

Port believes it was extremely important to have someone like Malven in the district, because she was able to open people’s eyes to what is available to them and how technology can be a useful tool for teaching and learning.

Nevada PTA member and parent, Beth Safranski Derrick, said she had heard about Malven long before she met her when she was a “guest reader” for an elementary reading night. “She did a fantastic job bringing the book to life.”

Reading to kids, tending to the middle school flower gardens, guiding the high school IT club and helping with book fairs are some of the extra things people have watched Malven doing outside of her main technology job.

It was through PTA and book fairs that Safranski Derrick became more fully acquainted with Malven. “I have been lucky enough to have her boundless generosity with her time and experience and to get to work with her more ‘one on one’ since taking over the book fair,” said Safranski Derrick, who said Malven chaired the book fair for 20 years or more, and then spent even more time working on the book fairs after she turned the chairman’s job over to her. “She pitches in and sets up and expects no credit. She will share knowledge, but bow to my ‘leadership’ without any ego.”

Perhaps what impresses Safranski Derrick the most about Malven is the way she gets along with people. “She knows lots of people and greets them warmly and everyone gets a nice smile. If they need help picking a book (at a book fair), she usually has some ideas. I have seen her sitting at a book fair loading software onto laptops and trouble-shooting for teachers at the same time.”

Safranski Derrick said that in this time, when so many people have very little time to volunteer, it’s been comforting to know that Malven will always help. “She dedicates her lunch hour at least four times a year to help with the middle school book fair, and recruits her interns to assist as well. She spends even longer hours during fall conferences and spring evenings helping us at the elementary book fair.” And Safranski Derrick is happy that Malven has already stated her willingness to help at book fairs in the future. “She obviously plans to keep on giving!”

Those who know her best won’t be surprised that Malven declined to comment on her years with the district. She didn’t want the focus to be on her as she retired. She wanted a quiet departure. But it’s hard to allow someone who has done so much for the district to depart with no comment at all.

“You will not find a more loyal person, and one who has maximized the dollars spent on technology,” Walker said. “The district has been able to add a lot of technology equipment for our students to use without cost, because Ann has made connections with a variety of businesses and they have donated outdated equipment to the school when they have updated their equipment. Having been able to secure these items has helped our budget a lot, as we have been able to provide equipment to more students.”

Walker said Malven’s replacement, Wakeman, was hired because of his skill level in a variety of areas associated with technology, from understanding computers to all the other areas that relate to it, from managing the lights and sound system of the auditorium to phone systems. Wakeman has also taught many staff development courses to teachers on using computers, Walker said.

Malven’s retirement is official at the end of the school year; she will work in the district until June 28. Wakeman began working in the district this week on May 1.

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