Phuong and Chan keep campus technology running


Photo by Sophie Au

Toan Phuong and Allen Chan are the backbone behind Lynbrook’s technology-based learning environment.

Sophie Au, Design Editor

From setting up computers to managing the school Wi-Fi to fixing projectors in classrooms, Lynbrook’s network and computer support specialists Toan Phuong and Allen Chan do it all. Even though students may only see them for a couple minutes at a time, Phuong and Chan are the backbone behind Lynbrook’s highly technology-based learning environment.

As network and computer support specialists, Phuong and Chan’s main job is to take care of the school’s computer and Wi-Fi needs. This includes helping teachers with computer and projection, login and password issues; updating school computers; and setting up Wi-Fi on student laptops. Phuong and Chan keep all of the school’s technology up and running at all times. In addition, they maintain the technology budget for the school and work with the school’s construction company to ensure that all technology in newly constructed buildings are useful and functional.

Phuong started working at Lynbrook as a network and computer support specialist more than 20 years ago. His background in technology, his love for computers and the support from the district has made Phuong enjoy the job.

Chan started his job 11 months ago and has enjoyed working alongside Phuong at Lynbrook. When he first heard of the opportunity, he saw it as a chance to experience tech in a non-corporate world.

“I wasn’t really aware of what it’s like on the administrative side,” Chan said. “I’ve been through high school on the student side, so it’s interesting to see how it’s run in the background, and it’s been very interesting.”

A typical day for Phuong and Chan largely consists of being on call to answer teacher calls and student emails about tech issues. Phuong and Chan are busy running around campus from classroom to classroom to assist teachers and students, whether it be for those locked out of accounts or for people experiencing projector issues. On top of that, they balance tasks left behind from the previous day with new issues that pop up throughout the current day.

“We prioritize the teachers and students,” Phuong said.  “Any time they call or email, we respond to their call to help them get their password or anything that pops up through the computer.”

Before the start of a school year, Phuong and Chan do as much as possible to technologically set up the school, updating all computers and laptops to prepare for he students’ return.

“We usually make sure the computers are updated so that when classes go on, the update doesn’t happen suddenly and prevent students, or even the teachers’ computer from taking class time, or running the class,” Chan said.

Alongside the library staff, Phuong and Chan manage new devices coming into Lynbrook every summer.

“The entire team, including Mr. Phuong and Mr. Chan, worked for hours to get the new ‘freshmen’ chromebooks into their protective cases, then piled them up to prepare for the onslaught of students needing them for school,” Lynbrook librarian Amy Ashworth said. “Their tasks completed before school ensures that all technology is ready for students to use.”

Besides individual technology issues, Phuong and Chan coordinate with the other network and computer support specialists in the district in the event of a district-wide Wi-Fi crash. Communicating on the Wi-Fi situation at other schools helps them narrow down the cause of a possible issue and update teachers and administration of the current situation.

The role of a network system specialist has changed in accordance with the technological developments at Lynbrook. The school used to have very few devices, but Lynbrook is now home to more than 2,000 devices. Students’ personal mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, are considered additional devices that are now running on the school network.

“Students used to have only one laptop, but nowadays, a student has many devices — they are running four or five devices,” Phuong said. “I don’t know how they manage all the devices.”

In a world with fast-paced technological changes, Phuong and Chan keep up with the newest devices and update Lynbrook with the newest and most recent technology.

“Another task we do is just keeping up to date with all the current trends,” Chan said. “We see what new technology there is and see how we can implement them for students and staff as well.”

As Phuong and Chan go around Lynbrook to assist anyone in need, they have quickly become MVPs of their own.

“Both of them have their hearts in the right place,” Ashworth said. “They’re all about service, even if they get tired of saying, ‘Have you tried turning it off and on again?’”