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Donations from Cisco parents boost tech infrastructure

They're designed to blend into the background yet they make the experience of hybrid instruction possible and seamless. Thanks to the newly installed access points on campus, many classrooms are now much better equipped to handle increased internet traffic so that students have a better learning experience.

Saint Francis parents who work at Cisco have donated 22 access points to the school — devices that allow other wireless devices to connect to the internet. Because of these donations through the Cisco Matching Program, Saint Francis was able to improve the technology backbone in each of the classrooms in the 400 and 500 buildings.

“Each robust access point can handle 30 students at a time so each device takes on the communication needs for an entire classroom,” says Director of Technology Larry Steinke.

Mr. Steinke is grateful for the generosity of parents who participate in the Cisco Matching Program, which enables Saint Francis to make significant upgrades to its connectivity infrastructure through parent donations. This relationship with Cisco has been in place for 20 years; parent donations were critical to acquiring campus phones and building out the school’s wireless network that goes to every building and outdoor space. 

“To Airplay on the projectors and to sustain remote sessions with dozens of students who are at home, all that is traversing across Cisco equipment. Much of that infrastructure was donated over the years,” says Mr. Steinke.

One advantage of the Cisco Matching Program is that several individuals can pool their resources together to create more impact. About 50 Cisco parents are invited to take part in a given year. Special thanks go to past parents Cerafin Castillo ’84, past member of the Board of Directors, Tim Pietro ’93 and Randy Jewell for shepherding the relationship between Cisco and Saint Francis.

Parents from other high tech companies have also contributed technology over the years. In the past, Saint Francis has had relationships with HP and Lenovo, while Google and Facebook have sponsored or participated in student-led hackathons in recent years. Most recently Zoom, a company with numerous Saint Francis parents and alumni, has had a tremendous impact on teaching and learning.

“School is a place filled with optimism, but technology brings a layer of complexity,” says Director of Technology Larry Steinke. “Cisco parents have made it possible for us to hide the difficulty of what is happening so students can concentrate fully on their teacher instead of having a glitchy iPad or not being able to hear their teacher. Technology can inspire students and enable them to do great things, and it is making hybrid learning possible.”

Saint Francis is actively exploring new partnerships with tech companies as part of its innovation program and via technology integrations. To inquire about such opportunities, contact Shraddha Chapplot, Innovation Coordinator, at shraddhachaplot@sfhs.com or Larry Steinke, Director of Technology, at larrysteinke@sfhs.com