Judy Wyndham - IT Help Desk
Many things come natural to Judy Wyndham, especially caretaking and managing. The oldest of four, Wyndham grew up in that role when it came to assisting her parents in reigning in her brother and sisters.
Wyndham carried those skills over to her career where she has, for years held customer service roles, and managed multiple employees who serve in those positions.
Wyndham is currently in her sixth year as Charleston County School District’s (CCSD) Director of Customer Support in the Information Technology Department. Her customers are the educators in the district and her team is second to none.
With customer support must come customer service.
“Judy works tirelessly to ensure teachers and students have the technology that they need for success in the classroom,” said Lacy Bryant, Instructional Specialist for Social Studies in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
“As part of her role, she manages our amazing IT technicians and the customer support team, who all work to resolve customers' (teachers’) concerns quickly and efficiently.”
According to Tom Nawrocki, Executive Director of Information Technology, Wyndham has established a very positive and meaningful rapport with all CCSD departments.
“Customer service is not a job for Judy, it is an innate part of her being,” said Nawrocki. “I am proud to have been working with her for nearly 20 years, and in those years, she has taught me that the end of a task is just a destination. The true meaning in our presence is the journey with our staff to provide excellent service and support.”
Wyndham’s passion for dealing with customers efficiently, and with compassion, may have derived from her parents. Wyndam’s mother was a master at interacting with people and rose to the top of the human resources department where she worked. Her father was a computer operator when punch-card programming was in use. Both instilled in their children values of faith, family, and hard work.
The beginning of her career
Wyndham started her career as a Sears portrait studio photographer. She spent much of her time soothing terrified babies and angry parents who didn’t like how their pictures turned out.
By the early 1980s, she was managing the call center for Compute! Magazine.
“It was a time when programs were typed in by code and the magazine was a publisher of those codes,” Wyndham explained. “Customers would key those codes into their own computers and execute the program.”
Customers would call in with questions and some would be furious if there was a typo in a published code.
“I learned how to deal with upset people,” said Wyndham. “It was my first time dealing with the technology. Things had to be exact. Customers spent hours typing in those published codes and one error could mean a tremendous amount of wasted time.”
Compute! Magazine was eventually sold to ABC Broadcasting. Wyndham was transferred to New York for a year to serve on the transition team.
“I learned a lot about people and processes,” said Wyndham. “It was fun. Publishing is an interesting business and it was a great experience for me.”
Home is where the heart is and Wyndham made her way back to Greensboro, NC. She was hired to work at The Mailbox which is an educational magazine for teachers. The magazine is for elementary school teachers and features worksheets, activities, and practical tips. It was her foray into education where she managed the call center (and eventually technology) for 18 years.
“It was a fabulous place to work and I smile when I see the publication in our media centers,” said Wyndham. “I really enjoyed that time supporting and working with teachers.”
Customer service is not an accident at CCSD
Even though Wyndham’s husband Frank, is from Charleston, she told him years ago, ‘don’t even ask. I’m not moving there.’
However, in 2004, the Wyndham family arrived in the Lowcountry.
There happened to be an ad in the paper for an IT Telecommunications Administrator in CCSD. She was chosen for the job and through the years the role evolved as did Wyndham’s position within the department.
Wyndham now oversees the Help Desk, Field Support, and Project Management including new construction projects.
“I feel lucky and so privileged to work here,” said Wyndham. “I have a great boss and rock-solid people on my team. I have led hundreds of people over the years and I love being a part of their stories. We do work that matters and we do it as a team.”
Teachers and students at CCSD need their district-issued devices to operate efficiently so they can do their work. If they don’t work, Wyndham’s team is called to the rescue.
Wyndham’s team consists of competent IT specialists but they are also trained to engage in a positive and kind way.
“You have a teacher that is already stressed and they can’t access the internet and we need to not only assure the teacher we will resolve the problem but do it as quickly as possible,” said Wyndham. “Customer service is not an accident here. Our help desk is second to none in customer service skills. These front-line people are fantastic.”
In CCSD, every student and staff member is issued a device. Wyndham’s team supports their requests for assistance through the Help Desk. Their department’s goal is to have 60 percent of those calls resolved before the customer hangs up. If it can’t be resolved the request for assistance is escalated to the proper channels.
“It’s costly and takes time to send a technician out, so obviously employees on our Help Desk have to be skilled so we can resolve any issues right there over the phone,” said Wyndham. “This also must be done in a kind and engaging way.”
The future of Information Technology
Before CCSD became a one-to-one school district, students had access to computers in a lab via scheduled instruction. That eventually was not conducive to the ever-evolving way of instruction and the district began transitioning to student-issued personal devices.
“COVID-19 fast-tracked that effort and our team didn’t miss a beat,” explained Wyndham. “Not only were we issuing additional devices at a rapid pace, but we were also fielding calls from students, parents, grandparents, teachers, and staff. We also ran a repair bus to assist with broken devices throughout the District. Their performance then and still now is something to be proud of.”
Being able to pivot an entire department within a few weeks is a result of Wyndham’s love of problem-solving. It is part of the job and one of her favorite parts.
Wyndham oversees 45 people, (including six leaders) and a substantial number of contractors that work through the summer. June, July, and August are considered the busiest time of year for her department which works around the clock to ensure classrooms are ready for instruction at the start of the year.
“A lot of logistics goes into setting up classrooms so there is a minimal amount of work required for the teacher,” explained Wyndham. “We try to get to as many classrooms as possible each summer.”
Bryant isn’t surprised Wyndham ensures classrooms are ready to go.
“Judy has a positive attitude and is extremely focused on customer service,” said Bryant. “When high-level decisions about classroom technology are made (Promethean Boards for example), she works to understand how those decisions impact teachers and students and serves as an advocate in keeping teachers and students at the heart of the decision-making process. She is always curious about how decisions will impact learning and works to make sense of the varied perspectives of stakeholder groups through openness and collaboration with every department in CCSD.”
Additionally, the field technicians on her team respond to year-round requests for service.
“Our Field Techs who go into the classroom to troubleshoot any equipment that needs a personal touch, are to be admired,” said Wyndham. “Certainly they are an integral part of the teaching experience and are often greeted with, ‘Oh thank goodness, I’m so glad you’re here to help!’ Their leaders work hard to make sure they have the technical as well as soft skills required to do this demanding work.”
Wyndham also said that what drives her department’s desire to provide top-notch customer service is the respect for the work that others in the district are doing.
“We know people are working really hard and we’re here to make their jobs easier,” Wyndham said.
The other side of the IT operation is life-cycle replacement of equipment. Most devices are replaced every four to five years. This year, 10,000 Chromebooks are being replaced so they are compatible with the latest Google Operating System. Additionally, all end-of-life equipment is recycled, which brings in funding to support technology initiatives.
“We service over 70,000 devices and that is challenging,” said Wyndham. “Security is one of our biggest concerns because the district as a whole has valuable data. We are very fortunate to have a very skilled network operations team. It takes everyone in the district to be diligent. A breach could be crippling.”
Wyndham credits Nawrocki and the important work he does.
“He has a tremendous responsibility to provide safe and secure network services and everything we do is guided by that objective,” added Wyndham.
Family means the world to Wyndham and her team at work is an extension of that. When not at the office, Wyndham enjoys spending time with her very large family which includes three children, Michael, Frank, and Ashley (who all have great spouses) and six grandchildren (and another one on the way). Wyndham and husband, Frank love to travel and enjoy all things related to Clemson football. The couple also just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. At work and at home, there is much for her to be proud of.
“I am proud of what we have accomplished,” said Wyndham. “We are fortunate to have fantastic leaders from the superintendent on down. It is an honor to work with people of this quality.”
Ultimately, Wyndham hopes people never have to call for technical support but if they do, she wants them to say they had an outstanding experience and their issue was resolved.
“I love my job but what I love even more is building relationships with people from across the district,” said Wyndham. “I am often in the field visiting with principals and staff and getting to know them and learning about their responsibilities and what their needs are. That helps guide what we do.”