Get to Know Our Staff: IT Team

Kate Raven, Communications Manager
When schools closed across the province in March 2020 due to COVID-19, Greenwood’s IT Team instantly understood that they had to act quickly. “We knew students and staff would need access to all of the services they depend on at school,” says Jonathan Tepper, Executive Director, Information & Learning Technology. “What does that look like in practice? How do we make sure that staff and students are supported?”

In the early days of the pandemic, the team focused on ensuring that staff had the hardware they needed and knew how to use critical software, such as Google Meet. Marcio Sargento and Stephanie Martino, our Technology Integrators at that time, put together a massive document explaining everything staff would need to know. “Many people want to try to work through instructions themselves before someone shows them what to do,” Jonathan says. “We then offered personalized training sessions for those who needed them.” 

Then, they did what we have all done: they pivoted. Happily, our technology infrastructure positioned us well for adapting to our new environment; however, almost every element of the IT Team’s approach had to shift to accommodate online and hybrid learning, and to make sure teachers had access to the tools they needed to keep classes engaging.

Online Learning and Communication

Google Meet has been perhaps the most critical tool for Greenwood over the last two years. To keep classes running smoothly both online and in the hybrid model, Meet needed to work -- period. Constantly monitoring Meet for any potential problems was key. “We created a dashboard where we can see which meets are running, how many users are connected, and whether there is any data loss,” says Vick Lall, Manager, IT. “If there is an issue, we can pinpoint it quickly.” The team upgraded our virus protection to BitDefender, an award-winning cybersecurity program that keeps unwanted programs from affecting Meet while protecting our system as a whole.

Continuity of service is also an important element of online learning. With this in mind, Greenwood implemented Jabber, a tool that allows staff to both make and receive calls from their Greenwood extensions via their computers. “We wanted the phone system to work just as if we were on site,” Vick says. Additionally, TeamViewer gave the IT Team the ability to access staff members’ computers remotely to troubleshoot issues quickly.

The team did their best to ensure that someone was available in person when students or staff members needed help. Alex Kimpton, our Help Desk Technician who recently moved on to York University, came into the school during the most critical times in the pandemic. He never once complained and always remained calm and smiling behind his mask. He made himself available at our IT Helpdesk and always kept an eye on incoming requests to our online helpdesk system


IT looked for additional tools to help teachers engage students in the online environment. They worked with Marcio and Stephanie, in addition to Mary Gauthier, Executive Director, Greenwood Centre for Teaching and Learning, to purchase and repurpose a host of apps to encourage interaction and collaboration; teachers also passed along promising tools they encountered to IT for evaluation. Kahoot!, a trivia software which has long been a favourite of both students and staff, was upgraded to provide a whole new suite of features. “Teachers can use it to not only gamify learning, but to conduct assessments and track progress over time,” Jonathan says. (Read more about our use of Kahoot! here.) Some additional apps now in the rotation include Flipgrid, Pear Deck, Edpuzzle, Quizlet, Jamboard and BrainPOP.

While new tools generate a lot of excitement, we want to ensure that students aren’t overwhelmed. Teachers pilot the apps with their classes and choose a customized assortment that students like and that work most effectively for their learning goals. The process can also lead IT to view a tool they had considered cutting in a new light. “We didn’t use Padlet very much, but then the Arts program found a lot of value in it,” Jonathan says. Padlet is now used for brainstorming, collaborative projects and even presenting research findings.


With in-person learning and events put on hold, IT support became critical to delivering everything from assemblies to Celebration Day. Albert Bui, our Technician, Audio-Visual, became very busy with filming, editing and distributing videos. As soon as school resumed in March 2020, he was cutting together and distributing our Morning Announcements, and there were always more videos to produce. “I was coaching people on recording videos at home,” Albert says. “You can see a progression over time as people learn the best practices for great audio and video.”

We also had to rethink how to present events such as our school plays. Our Drama department suggested that the team test out StreamYard, a browser-based streaming platform, and they haven’t looked back. “It’s very polished,” Albert says. “You can have people ‘backstage’ when they are not speaking or performing, choose where they appear on the screen and add elements like titles and transitions. For the audience, it’s the next best thing to being there.”

Hybrid Learning

The return to campus in September 2020 brought new challenges: with a hybrid learning structure for Grades 9-12, we needed to ensure that teachers could engage students in person and online simultaneously. 

Albert, Marcio and Stephanie explored a variety of hardware tools such as document cameras, microphones and earbuds to address some of the technical challenges; these solved the problems in the short term, and we have since upgraded these tools. More daunting was the prospect of having dozens of students log into Google Meet at the same time while on campus -- our existing setup had not been designed with this in mind.

To address these concerns, Vick rewired a good portion of the school, upgrading switches and access points and increasing bandwidth. “The most heavily used rooms were essentially turned into conference rooms,” Vick says. We also upgraded our screen-sharing technology in 23 classrooms and worked with staff to manage bandwidth use.

On the administrative side, the team has continued to do all they can to minimize load on staff and parents. Brandon Holmes, our Custom Reports & Data Administrator, worked to pre-create Parent-Teacher Conference links, taking this responsibility off teachers’ plates and consolidating links in one place for parents and guardians. He has also enhanced attendance tracking and ensured that it was integrated with our attendance system. 

Brandon joined our community mid-year and instantly became part of the team. “My transition into the school was really smooth,” he says.

A Strong Team

Jonathan is extremely grateful for his team’s hard work, dedication and creativity over the last two years. “I’m only as strong as the links in my department,” he says. “They are the ones who bring value.” The team consistently went above and beyond, finding innovative solutions to problems and using the resources at their disposal to get the job done. 

Because of the extraordinary IT demands that come with the pandemic, the team has not had a lot of time off. “We have a lot of vacation between us,” Jonathan says. They are looking forward to taking that time soon for some well-deserved rest!
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Greenwood College School

443 Mount Pleasant Road
Toronto, ON M4S 2L8
Tel: 416 482 9811
We acknowledge with gratitude the Ancestral lands upon which our main campus is situated. These lands are the Ancestral territories of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Anishinabek and the Wendake. The shared responsibility of this land is honoured in the Dish with One Spoon Treaty and as settlers, we strive to care for the land, the waters, and all creatures in the spirit of peace. We are responsible for respecting and supporting the enduring presence of all First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. When away from this campus we vow to be respectful to the land by protecting and honouring it. We will create relationships with the people and the land we may visit by understanding the territories we enter and the nations who inhabit them.
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