For Appreciation Week 2013, teams of writers looked into the lives of 4 special individuals or groups who contribute to our daily school lives – people we may not always notice. We hope this encourages you to show your appreciation for the perhaps less-noticed staff members around the school; they may not be significant in their own right, but they definitely make a significant impact on our school lives. Today, we feature the IT department.
by Kimberly Pah (13A01B), Stephanie Heng (14A01B) and Austin Zheng (14A01B)
‘We give you the Internet’
Behind an unassuming door, a vanguard of tech wizards protects the school’s intricate computer network from glitches, bugs, hacks, and other mysterious threats. Even as students unknowingly stream past the IT department’s office on their way to the library, the staff are hard at work, sending emails, making calls, replacing defective hardware and fixing problem-plagued software, silently committed to smoothening our school experience. Who are the people behind those screens and walls? Let us shed some light on some of these reclusive figures, namely the Stitch-loving Ms Corinne, the awkwardly endearing Mr Luke and veteran Mr Maurice, all of whom form part of the warm IT department and the family of Raffles.
With fewer than ten people in the department, each person plays a specific and specialised role in maintaining the IT structure. Mr Luke, for example, plays a role in website design, and takes care of problems that arise with the school applications and websites, even outside of his working hours. Ms Corinne is the administrative officer of the department, handling projects, IT-specific budgets and vendors, and serving as its point of contact. Their colleagues handle the more mechanical side of things, with the small office divided into the hardware and software sections. At times, though, the job scope of the IT department may seem unclear. For instance, the technicians that come to our grateful teachers’ rescue are actually from Estate, while Discovery and Stamford are run by the Education and Technology department. Mr Maurice, the IT department head, clarifies that they are in charge of the underlying infrastructure, while other departments manage the actual content of the school applications and website.
Surprisingly, the IT staff have worked for a relatively short time in RI. Mr Luke has just joined the school this year, while Ms Corinne entered the department in 2012, and even Mr Maurice has worked for only about two years in RI. With us being used to tales of teachers who have taught here for over twenty years, the high turnover rate may come as an intriguing revelation. Mr Maurice noted that the nature of the IT sector means that it is a very competitive arena, with many fresh graduates or university students-to-be looking to gain working experience in school IT departments. Mr Luke has his sights set on the big IT companies, while Ms Corinne is studying marketing. In his case, Mr Maurice decided to settle down in RI after working in corporations such as IBM and Microsoft, burdened by the multitude of performance indicators, the internal politics, the long working hours and the intense pressure. For instance, one of the problems he faced was that his U.S. counterparts and superiors scheduled their deadlines, meetings and plans according to their own time zones, complicating international cooperation and severely affecting his own hours of rest.
Conversely, the working environment at RI is a much more comfortable and friendly one. Mr Luke reflected that the RI IT department was a very warm and family-oriented workplace, while Ms Corinne was very happy withthe supportive atmosphere and job benefits. Mr Maurice laughed as he said that he could leave by 6 p.m., and was thus able to spend more time with his family. Indeed, with the familiarity, friendliness, and teasing between the colleagues, the department itself felt like a family. Consequently, the staff have a considerable amount of time to pursue their own interests, with Ms Corinne playing sports like netball and going out with her friends even as she juggles work and studies. Mr Luke hangs out with his friends and participates in church activities, while Mr Maurice frequently exercises, spends time with his children and helps them prepare for their PSLE looming at the end of the year. With the IT staff clearly leading a much healthier lifestyle than many students, the stereotype of faceless nerds scrabbling over keyboards will hopefully be shattered.
The elusive figures of the IT department have thus been demystified. The next time you go to the library, just remember that behind the walls and doors, a dedicated team of technicians are poring over code, protecting our computers, and poking fun at each other. Every day in school, whether you are scrambling to download your assignments from Google documents and emails, or leisurely catching up with the daily news, be sure to thank the staff for providing that convenient and indispensable tool, the wifi network.
Appreciation Week is featuring this story and more at a mini-exhibition in the canteen this week. Come on down and write thank-you notes, or show your appreciation in your own way! :) Look out for our next staff feature tomorrow!