West Allegheny School District Participates in First Annual Christmas Card Design Contest

For our company Christmas card this year, we wanted to showcase the talented students and teachers that make-up our partner schools. Questeq selected the West Allegheny High School as our first showcase art department.  We worked with Dr. Jerri Lippert and Questeq’s Technology Director, Doug Costa, to implement the contest.

Several talented students submitted their artwork for the contest. Questeq’s corporate team was tasked with choosing the winning design to be featured for 2018. High school senior, Anne Marie Lusardi, was ultimately selected as the winner for her “Merry Sniffmas” design. For their participation, both Anne Marie and the art department received special recognition and a thank you gift from Questeq.

Congratulations to Anne Marie for winning our 1st annual design contest! We wish you much success as you continue to develop your talents!

We have already selected the partner school that will be participating with us in 2019 and look forward to seeing their creative designs.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from our Questeq family to yours!

Questeq and Cornell School District Simplify Password Management

This past summer our long-time partner school, Cornell School District, worked in collaboration with Infrastructure Services (NOC) on an exciting project. Chris Simpson, Infrastructure Engineer and Cody Thull, Technology Coordinator were tasked with seamlessly integrating the password reset and sync process for students, teachers and staff at Cornell. The school district was using Google Cloud for email and some applications. In addition, they also utilized Microsoft licensing for Office desktop applications. The problem was, that if a user changed their password on a school device, the change did not sync with Google. This project was the 1st of its kind for Infrastructure Services, so how did they make Google and Microsoft Azure work together?

In addition to the Microsoft Office Tools and Google Cloud, Office 365 and a password reset portal was implemented for users at Cornell. When a password is changed through the portal, it syncs down to Cornell’s on-premise server, changing their school login. From there, the password syncs with their on-premise Google server and then up to Google Cloud. This makes the password reset process simple, transparent and secure for all users. The addition of 2-factor authentication, for both Microsoft and Google, further enhances the system security.

With Office 365, students, teachers and staff have 5 Microsoft Office licenses that they can install at home or wherever their learning/working takes place. The ease of password syncing and anytime, anywhere access to educational tools, removes barriers to learning and productivity for teachers, staff and students.

“The addition of Office 365 gives students the opportunity to utilize these tools from any device they can get their hands on. Up until this point, passwords have been a nightmare. Our users already have to remember several passwords for the different systems we utilize, each with their own password complexity. Integrating Office 365, on-premise AD and Google was a core first step in simplifying passwords for our users. Of course, there will be more integration moving forward.” – Cody Thull, Technology Coordinator @ Cornell

Are you looking to accomplish more with your school technology initiatives? Contact us today!

Effective Communication for Back to School Success

This year’s Back to School is packed full of exciting new gadgets, initiatives, and opportunities for all learners. As technology leaders, we tend to assess and develop school startup game plans focusing on areas of greatest impact. When creating this type of plan, it’s important to keep in mind the needs of the students first and leave extra time for the unexpected. During this time consider each day as a new opportunity for you to gain knowledge, build your skill set, and share your enthusiasm for technology.

Brad Klingelhoefer, Questeq Technology Coordinator, works with students at our partner school ACLD Tillotson.

The effectiveness of implementing new technologies and objectives can be a challenge. At the ACLD Tillotson School, we like to follow the technology trends in education and also try our own ideas. This year we are introducing school-wide, an application called Nearpod. Nearpod is a popular web-based application for delivering classroom lessons interactively for all subjects and grade levels. The initial reaction I received from the teachers was a bit of a shock. The response was overwhelmingly positive and they’re really excited to start using Nearpod in their classrooms. We are also implementing a digital citizenship course through Nearpod where the students will have the ability to enter a lesson using a code on their new 2-in-1, touchscreen Chromebooks. We’re continuously implementing new digital curriculum and platforms throughout every subject. It is very important for our students and staff to have as many devices and resources as possible. A few years ago, we started a 1-to-1 initiative with Chromebooks and this year we are expanded by adding iPads, Surface Pro Laptops, and even a few 3D printers and Apple Homepod speakers. While there are still challenges with multi-platforms and different operating systems in a school environment; there are far more benefits for everyone to learn by reducing the barriers and allowing everyone to use different types of devices effectively.

The start of the school year is an exciting time for everyone, but it can also be very demanding. It’s important to work together and communicate with your peers. Take time to review your communications strategy and ideas as this will be time well spent. Effective communication reinforces your knowledge, skills, and relationships. This is a two-way process as you will learn more when you are listening than when you are speaking. Allow yourself time to be organized and prepared. This time of year, the workload can seem unbearable at times. It’s essential to stay positive through it all and take time to reflect back upon the accomplishments you’ve achieved over the summer. Everyone really does notice that you’re doing your absolute best and they truly appreciate everything you do. The greatest thing you can do is be in the moment and successes will come.

– Brad Klingelhoefer, Questeq Technology Coordinator – ACLD Tillotson School

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A note about Brad and Questeq: Brad has been with Questeq since 2005 and has worked his way up through several roles and responsibilities. He started his Questeq career working at the Help Desk. Brad then moved into the Desktop Engineer 1 position, working in several of our customer sites. From there he was promoted to Desktop Engineer 2. In 2017, Brad was promoted to Technology Coordinator at one of our most unique sites, ACLD Tillotson School. The ACLD Tillotson School provides supports and services for students who have complex learning disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorders. Brad has excelled in this role and has become an invaluable resource to our company and to the students, teachers and staff at ACLD Tillotson.

We have written about our partnership with ACLD Tillotson School over the years. Check out our past posts here:

Questeq Participates in Tillotson School Benefit Walk
ACLD Tillotson School Expands Partnership with Questeq

Questeq Participates in Mock Interviews at BCCTC

Over eight years ago I had the opportunity to begin conducting mock interviews at the Beaver County Career & Technology Center to help students prepare for the real world. I was introduced to this opportunity by my friend, Renee Digiacomo, who teaches Business Information Systems and she asked me to help. She had the idea of preparing students for the real world by using business leaders she knew to help with the interview process. There are three of us who have been doing the interviews over the years: myself, Director of Business Administration here at Questeq; Deb Gray, owner of Express Professionals; and April McShane, Territory Manager of the Bradford Institute.

Jessica Main Conducts Mock Interview

Photo courtesy of Beaver County Career & Technology Center

The process of the mock interview goes as follows: the students are first prepped weeks ahead of time with a mock job opening and job description that they must use to prepare for the interview. Next, they work on their resumes, letters of intention, and study the criteria that they will be judged upon during the interview process. While students prepare for their interview, we create score sheets that vary in criteria from proper business attire, resume portfolio, and ability to answer and ask questions. Each student is brought into the classroom where our panel conducts interviews. Once the interviews are completed and scored, we bring the students back in and discuss with them mistakes and give advice on how they can do better. The student with the highest score is awarded the job.

There are so many things the students gain from this; courage and confidence are two that really stand out to me. I remember one incident where our influence on a student was extremely powerful: I was out to dinner and our waitress said that she did a mock interview with me and it helped her get the job that she wanted. She thanked me for all the help we gave her, and it was one of the reasons she beat out the competition. That was a great feeling to hear that she took to heart what she had learned and how the class helped her for the real world. We sometimes see repeat students since they may be sophomores or juniors in previous interviews. It’s fun when they return, and we see the improvements they made from last year.

Through the years I have learned the value of the entire interview process. There is so much competition in today’s job market and it’s extremely important to differentiate yourself and show the employer that you are the person for the job they are offering. Also, it is so important to research the company you want to work for because in the end, the employer wants people committed and enthusiastic to work for their company!

Finally, I would like to add that as a panel of interviewers we are not moderate just because they are students. We are tough in our criticisms and we do that to get the students to think about the reality of their future career path. It is a great teaching tool and I am honored to be a part of it every year!

Questeq & The Challenge Program Award Deserving Students

Jessica Main and BCCTC students

In February, Questeq’s Jessica Main and The Challenge Program distributed financial awards to underclassmen at the Beaver County Career and Technology Center. Questeq was a partner of The Challenge Program at BCCTC during the 2016-17 school year.

To read the full press release, click here.

We previously shared our involvement with The Challenge Program and BCCTC.