David Douglas School District Boosts Achievement Via Access

Enabling student achievement is core to every decision made by the David Douglas School District in Portland, Ore. A highly diverse school district, with more than 70 languages spoken among the students and a population that is 50 percent bilingual, its small-but-powerful 3-word motto “Learn Grow Thrive” tells a big story about how far heart and determination can take an individual…and a community.

Like many districts across the country, DDSD resolved to provide teachers and students with every advantage and resource that technology in the classroom has to offer. They wanted to bring online learning to each student with Google Classroom, streaming video, and other education-based applications. “We do everything in our power to put the tools in the hands of the teachers so that they can teach and students can learn,” said Derek Edens, director of technology and assessment at DDSD.

However, the existing wireless infrastructure just did not make the grade. It could not handle the volume of traffic generated by a district the size of David Douglas. The district, which serves about 10,000 students, includes nine elementary schools for grades K-5, three middle schools for grades 6-8, one high school for grades 9-12, and one alternative school for grades 9-12. The district was struggling with a density issue — too many devices overpowering too few resources — and needed to find a more robust platform that also fit into a K-12 budget.

“Stability is key,” said Edens. “I work very closely with the superintendent’s office, with curriculum, with ESL, and with the Special Ed department in the district. We have many online applications [and] we have about 12,500 Chromebooks … so uptime — students being able to connect to wireless and access the online curriculum — is key.”

Naturally, the team at DDSD turned to Structured and Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, for answers.

Structured has been supporting IT initiatives in education since its founding in 1992. The company has invested substantial resources — in both dollars and time — to ensuring its engineering staff and consultants are adept at recommending and supporting the technologies schools need most.  Deploying wireless networks, securing the traffic traversing those networks, and providing IT staff with the visibility to automatically permit or deny access to endpoints on those networks, is a critical component of the services Structured regularly provides to its customers in education.

“If there’s a problem that is above our technical expertise here, we can call Structured. They have Aruba engineers that are extremely knowledgeable and come on site [to] help me deal with what I need to deal with,” said Shawn Sutliff, network and technology administrator at DDSD. “A multiple day problem could be solved in hours.”

Aruba has likewise prioritized solutions for education. The company embraced mobile-first digital initiatives, developing access points, controllers, security tools, and network management tools that are easy to deploy and administer. This last piece is especially critical for public sector IT staff who are often tasked with disparate responsibilities and don’t have the luxury of time to focus on a single aspect of the IT infrastructure. Plus, Aruba solutions are sensitive to the budgetary considerations present in all public school districts.

“We went on a spring break and replaced all of the access points, probably over 600, and we did a like for like. And it worked from then on out,” said Sutliff. The Aruba access points “configure themselves — autochannel, autopower — and so far everything has been great.”

Here is the full story about how the dedicated staff at David Douglas School District drives excellence in education and helps students to Learn, Grow and Thrive — with a little help from Aruba and Structured.