Q: Where did you get your start working in the field
A: The first job I ever had was at an Apple-based desktop publishing store helping design magazines on Apple computers back in 1991. That’s the first time I did work using computers and got paid for it. That got me excited and interested in working with computers. I could see how you could actually create something using the technology.
Q: You grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. When did you come to the United States?
A: I came here to do my graduate degree. I could have gone to any state in the country, but I chose California for the weather. Kenya is very, very hot and I can’t do the snow thing. I chose this particular side of the world because of the proximity to Silicon Valley, the technology hub of the world.
Q: What was your high school experience like?
A: It was very much like being in a military academy. I went to a boys’ boarding school and we wore hideous school uniforms. The school planned out every minute of the entire day. I didn’t interface with the outside world at all. As a student, I just went to school and that was it. It was very different from the College Prep high school experience. My school emphasized discipline with the hope of shaping us into responsible young men. It was strict. I can say that it ended up shaping a lot of the way I think. With that kind of very structured life, I rarely got to see my family. We’d go to school for three months, and have a month break. That school was one of the best boys’ schools in Kenya, but when you’re a teenager, you treasure freedom and want to be at home watching TV and doing stuff that teenagers do.
Q: What was it like for you immigrating to the States?
A: It was so different. I grew up in a British colony where modern Kenyan culture is modeled after British culture. It’s very formal. The first time I went to my graduate class and I saw people eating food in class, that was a bit of a shock. The teacher kept teaching without worrying about the smells that lingered in the classroom. That was very unusual to me.
Q: You’ve been at College Prep for 21 years. How has your role evolved over the last two decades?
A: When I started working here, there were no laptops or smart boards. The teachers were using chalk and chalkboard. We had a computer lab where people could go check their email. The infrastructure was very different. Slowly, teachers started utilizing technology more in classrooms and technology was adopted to make various administrative tasks easier and efficient. In looking at the current independent school landscape, I evaluate how best to leverage technology for both teaching and learning.
I was hired as a network administrator/systems administrator and in 2009, I took on an administrative technology leadership role. My role began incorporating administrative oversight of technology at College Prep. I started to manage budget forecasting, hiring, and all the fun stuff that comes with a leadership role. I still enjoy designing, building, and maintaining systems that are used by everyone.
Q: How have the changes in technology changed the way you approach your work?
A: Everything these days is technology based. I work with almost every single person at the school—teachers, parents, students, facilities, and even the security staff. Almost everything you touch is technology based. That enables me to play with a lot of good, fun gadgets. It keeps me young and I’m constantly learning. No year has ever been the same. For instance, today we’re talking about upgrading our sound system in the auditorium for musicals and plays. I think it’s so exciting being here and working in tech. Nothing is predictable. I like the challenges. I’m learning so many things every week and I love that.
Q: So do you consider yourself a lifelong learner?
A: Yes. I love learning. That’s why being in a school actually makes so much sense to me. Nothing is ever the same. I meet new people and teaching is a big part of what I do because I’m implementing all of these technologies or teaching new hires about the technology. It feels good when my wonderful team can teach new skills to people that enable them to do their jobs better. To be a good teacher, you have to be a consistent learner.
Q: What are your primary responsibilities as a senior administrator at College Prep?
A: As a senior administrator, my role is to oversee all things related to technology at the school. I provide the technology vision and strategic leadership in the development of the school-wide technology program. For example, during the pandemic, technology became a key factor in keeping the school running. I had to make sure that any part of the transition that involved technology, such as health screenings for students and staff and setting up other online systems for remote learning, were created and working effectively. I love being a sounding board to our entire senior administrative team on how best to utilize technology as a tool to run the school and think about the future of the school.
Q: Do you have a hobby that helps you to decompress?
A: I love to run. I try to run four miles every day. I am an early riser, so I start my day with a run before coming into work. The intensity of work is there, but the only way that I manage to reset is by running in the morning. I am also looking to start a drone flying class. I would love to learn how to fly one to do aerial photography and I just think they are fun. I think seeing things from 400 feet above would help me decompress.
Q: Do you have a daily habit? I heard that you only drink a certain kind of coffee.
A: I’m an avid coffee drinker. I only like dark roast Arabica coffee. Right now I’m enjoying one from Rwanda. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 16. I just enjoy the tactile process of making a cup of coffee, grinding the beans to just the correct coarseness and using a filter for the perfect pour over. We have a coffee bar in the Tech Office and we love making our own coffee. I usually have two or three cups per day.