District hires new IT director

The Mehlville School District has selected Mr. Paul Westbrook as its new Director of Technology Services.

The Director of Technology Services is responsible for managing the IT department’s budget and resources, managing the IT staff throughout the district, and working with teachers to build curriculum and technology hand-in-hand. Westbrook is replacing Steven Lee, who has retired following a 34-year career in the district.

Westbrook has previously taught science and served as Assistant Principal at Bernard Middle School. He has an advanced degree in education, but no formal background in information technology; however, Westbrook has developed plenty of technical knowledge in his spare time.

“I would describe myself as ‘self-taught’ with a life-long natural interest in technology and willingness to take on new challenges,” Westbrook said. “I spend time doing some light coding, computer builds, networking and studying emerging trends in technology on my own.”

Westbrook says that his unique educational background signals a change in the job of an IT director from a technical job to a mostly administrative position.

“Directors have gone from directly maintaining a network to managing a team of network administrators,” Westbrook said. “School districts are recognizing the need… to have an IT director that also understands the educational components in the schools…”

Westbrook’s background as a teacher will give him insight into how teachers use technology and what challenges they face in the classroom. It’s likely that teachers will be less frustrated at IT with one of their own at the helm.

The change in personnel comes at a time when the district’s network is facing challenges. Just five years ago, only 4500 district computers were on the network; today, that number has skyrocketed to almost 8000. That’s not including the hundreds of personal devices students use on a daily basis. With all the new traffic, Westbrook says upgrades are on the way.

“I have bids out with vendors to get pricing on adding an additional 250 wireless access points in the district, purchasing a new firewall with increased capacity, and doubling our internet broadband speed,” Westbrook said. “I am also working on a two year plan to upgrade all network switches district wide to increase speed and reliability.”

Westbrook officially began his work as Director of Technology Services on Monday, Feb. 8.