Everyone Wins: Kids & Pros in the Cloud

As part of the student-driven pilot program we've been building this year, Rockets Help Desk, I've worked to connect my students with technology professionals from all over the country.  Up until now this was done primarily via video chats. Little did I know, we had a technology leader right in our back yard.

Thanks to some connections I made at the Blue Ribbon National Conference in December 2014, I found out that NaviSite's flagship facility is only two towns away from our school.  Thanks to people from both Blue Ribbon and NaviSite, 17 of my tech-enthusiast students were able to get an insider's look at cloud storage, security, and strategy from the pros.  Here's a peek at the Andover, Massachusetts facility we visited.  Click to watch.

Inside NaviSite's Andover, MA Data Center from NaviSite on Vimeo.

First, the students were brought to a professional board room with professional presentation technology. They felt special and respected by leaders in the industry.

A photo posted by Kerry Gallagher (@kerryhawk02) on

Thanks to Jeffrey Dorey's thorough and thoughtful talk on cyber threats and data security, the students now have a better understanding of who is accessing, or could access, the information they look for, save, and create on any device.  He even explained the breakthrough of VMware and how data packets can be transferred and stored better now because of this genius idea.  Here is the data packet simulation the kids experienced... with oranges!

A video posted by Kerry Gallagher (@kerryhawk02) on

Soon after, we were treated to tours of the power and data-storage sides of the facility. One of the most common comments from the kids involved surprise that "the cloud" was actually a row of black cabinets filled with servers.  As Mr. Dorey warned them on the slide below from his presentation.

The kids were buzzing with excitement as we debriefed in our own conference room back at our high school.  But I truly knew it had been a worthwhile experience when I received this email from Parker 2 days later, one of the students in attendance. He wrote:

Mrs. Gallagher,

I would like to thank you and the generous people from NaviSite for allowing us to come visit them for the intriguing learning experience on Friday. I am very thankful that you chose me as one of the students to accompany you on this excursion. In my opinion that field trip was the most interesting, informative, and most pertinent to my life so far in my schooling career. History museums are great, but learning about technology that influences my life every day is an unparalleled experience. Not only was the facility itself, in its operation and state of the art technology interesting, but the people who worked there were also incredibly informing, and had great personal experiences to share with us. The presentation at the beginning of the field trip was incredibly interesting, I do not think I have ever been as entranced by an over hour and a half presentation as I was on Friday. Again, thank you, and the people of NaviSite very much for presenting me with this opportunity to learn about aspects of my life that I utilize every day.

Sincerely, Parker Webb

P.S. If you could pass this along to someone at NaviSite to express my thanks to them, I would appreciate it. Thank You.

Of course, I did pass it along.

The most important thing I learned from this experience is that my efforts to make school a bridge to the professional world are valid. School is definitely meant to prepare kids for what will face them when they start their careers, but giving them real world experiences must be a vital part of this preparation.  The world awaits beyond school walls. Our students should have access to that world as much as possible.


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