Gina Covington is bright, warm, and an absolute force. Having been the CTO for Texas City Independent School District (ISD) for about a year and a half—bringing over 25 years of education experience to the role—Gina has made huge strides within the district. Texas City is about 50 miles southeast of Houston, and the ISD supports 8,000 students across 13 schools. Since Gina took the role, Texas City ISD has made Microsoft 365 and Windows devices the gold standard across the district. In Gina’s words, the decision to go with Microsoft all started with a question:
“What do our students need to know about technology to be prepared to make valuable contributions when they leave our schools?”
Preparing Students for the Workforce
The decision to go with Microsoft came from sourcing information from teachers and industry leaders, as well as thinking about the real skill sets students will need when they enter the workforce. In Gina’s experience, “If you don’t use Microsoft products, you are not prepared for the workforce.”
Using Microsoft tools, students in the Texas City ISD are taught how to professionally write business emails and letters and build presentations. Teachers fully utilize their Microsoft 365 suite through Teams, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and OneNote in their daily lessons, showing students how to be successful in the real world. The powerful sense of collaboration between teachers at the schools and the district team is evident when speaking to Gina. The goal for everyone is to drive student outcomes—whether that is a teacher using Microsoft Translator to easily help ESL students adapt or applying for assistive technology with the instructional technology team to ensure a student’s success—and working together to provide all students with the same opportunities is key. Microsoft Education and Microsoft 365 have provided Texas City ISD with a variety of tools and devices they can leverage to fulfill the common goal of student success.
Right-fit Devices for Students
Upon returning to the campuses after the height of the pandemic, Gina saw a real need in providing an easy-to-use device for the younger students. This is where Jerry Cournoyer, Executive Account Manager at Connection, comes in.
“My predecessor had ordered premium laptops, and that was great for everybody during COVID. But once we were face-to-face again, I realized 3- and 4-year-olds don’t need all of that. They need something different,” said Gina. “So, I reached out to Jerry and several different partners, asking for a simpler device. And, really, no one else has a device like the Surface Go. Jerry was on it immediately. The beauty of working with Connection is that they understand our vision. And what we see as critical for our students is that they move into the real world outside of a K–12 environment.”
“Anytime I need anything, I just say, ‘Hey Jerry, I’m thinking about this. What’s going on?’ I really rely on Jerry to look at what’s out there and he’ll feed me stuff. I’ve got multiple providers that want to do what Connection does for us, but the level of service we get—and the follow up—it’s just…” Gina smiles and shakes her head.
Bobby Mills, the Manager of Network Services at ISD for 17 years—and a parent within the district— agrees, “Yeah, I do the same thing. And not just with Microsoft! Anytime I need a new piece of software, I email or call Jerry first. I always go to Connection because I know they can get it for me, and I don’t have to jump through hoops trying to find it with someone else. I use a lot of network tools and I always just email Jerry. He takes care of me!”
Procurement and Deployment Made Easy
Bobby has been an integral part of the development of ISD’s infrastructure. He currently manages the district’s 10,000 devices using Autopilot and Intune.
“I love Intune,” Bobby states. “I love the management features and the administrative templates. It makes my job easier and more efficient. From a management standpoint, I love that even if someone takes a device home, I can still manage the security of the device.”
Bobby has worked with Jerry throughout the entire process of going 1:1, as well as utilizing Intune and Autopilot Azure services—and even bringing in a licensing specialist to help when needed.
“And that’s the other thing,” Gina says. “It isn’t just about purchasing. Jerry has resources that he provides for us when we need it. We’ll ask a question, and he is quick to loop someone in. We built four buildings in the last year, and we have 10 facilities that are going to be built. We’ll be relying heavily on Jerry to help support us as we start purchasing for those new facilities.”
Because of the generous size of the district and its multiple campuses, Jerry also works directly with administrators, school secretaries, and Assistant Principals to help them with the hardware they need, often providing a high- and low-end option, along with the information required to make the best decision.
“He adds so much value for not only me and Bobby, but also to the entire district. Those people who are out there, boots on the ground, really doing the work,” Gina says. “The key for us is the end user. We are the end user for Connection in the same way students and staff are end users for us. We know that Connection values their end users. Jerry typically communicates to me before I have a chance to communicate back to him on something. He lets me know when things are set to expire—which has been huge in my transition to this role because there was not a lot of documentation for me. Before we didn’t know things were going to expire until they had expired, and Jerry has filled that need for us.”
The feeling is clearly mutual. “I’m more than thankful to be working with Gina and Bobby,” Jerry says. “Anything I can do for them; they know they are the best and most important people to my business. I am thankful that I get the chance to work with them. And I’m happy to do it.” What more could you ask for in customer service?
Reach out to your Connection Account team to learn more about Microsoft Education services and solutions we can provide.