Hemet Unified Information Technology Department Receives Golden Bell Award for Innovation In a Time of Crisis from the California School Boards Association

The Golden Bell Awards celebrate the pursuit of excellence across all services and practices within a school district, from their workplace management to their individual community interactions. The presentation of a Golden Bell Award recognizes the impressive efforts behind programs and specifically the individuals who make them possible.

Hemet Unified's Information Technology department was recognized and awarded with a Golden Bell for Innovation in a Time of Crisis for their exemplary performance and service rendered during the period of remote learning due to the Coronavirus pandemic. IT was celebrated at CSBA’s Annual Educational Conference and Trade Show, the premier continuing education event for California school board members among other renowned educational institutions held at the Marriott Marquis in San Diego, California.

The Information Technology department maintains a high standard of preparation and innovation. A timely five-year technology improvement plant kept Hemet Unified ahead of the curve going into the Coronavirus pandemic. When it came to remote learning the district did not have to worry about catching up, the IT department used their existing resources to swiftly act on behalf of students, staff, and families in the district.

The IT department effectively served and continues to serve 22,931 students over 700 square miles. 86% of district students are from economically disadvantaged families. Covering such a large area, including rural areas, where remote learning and access to resources would be difficult, IT executed and delivered on the district goal of equitable education providing students and staff with laptops, mobile hotspots, and technical support websites. Educators were prepared with access to their devices two weeks prior to the school year, and further training was available for instructional staff to properly educate students remotely.

In quick response to supply chain issues, to replace students’ damaged Chromebook, techs were trained in soldering and fixing damaged parts. This in house repair plan prevented the district from running into any inventory issues throughout the year. Additionally, rural areas were serviced with internet hot spots and remote help desks via bus drivers. IT provided 3,900 hot spots to prevent disruptions in student learning.

A panel of judges recognized the IT department for their district-wide efforts that went above and beyond to ensure quality educational opportunities and to bridge gaps for those in difficult positions during this time of crisis.

The Information Technology department is a source of pride for the Hemet Unified School District. IT maintains a versatile action plan and it has been recognized across the country as the CTO, Benjamin Markley, has spoken at conferences and panels representing HUSD. It is a great honor to have these trend-setting practices recognized on such a scale. Innovative practices coupled with detailed planning keep Hemet Unified schools in a position to progress and excel.