Getting Lost In The World of Tech with Mrs. Willard


John Latimer, Staff Writer

Mrs. Willard is the Digital Media Specialist at Apopka High school, also known as the “Tech Queen.”  She is fantastic, solving any technical issue on our campus and she always does it with a smile on her face. She works closely with the staff and students at our school in the library and goes from classroom to classroom; virtually anywhere that has tech issues arise, she pops up in an instant. Although her tech abilities are among the most significant attributes that affect our campus running smoothly daily, there is a lot more to Mrs. Willard that one wouldn’t know if they were just stopping by the media center to swap out a new computer.


How many years have you been at AHS?

In January, it will be 4 years. Before Apopka High, I worked at Lovell Elementary for 14 years.

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What are some things that you have seen change over the years that are different from when you first started here?

I would say our biggest change has been our increased dependence on technology. When I first arrived, most teachers were using Edmodo, but very few had embraced Canvas or any other fully functional learning management system. Textbooks and paper/pencil were still the norm in most classrooms. Now Canvas is the way of our world. In some ways I consider us very fortunate. The high schools had the most experience with Canvas going into the Covid-19 crisis of 2020. This allowed our learning to transition online in a much more seamless manner than the elementary schools that did not have a few years of experience under their belt already. I am not saying it was easy, but we are definitely more experienced with Canvas and other aspects of technology than we were when I started four years ago.


What does a busy day typically look like for you ?

Most days begin with something not functioning properly. This could be a webpage, a device or any other aspect of technology we are using right now. The majority of my day is troubleshooting and solving tech issues. This goes for face-to-face as well as LaunchEd students and teachers. Every day there is some new issue to solve, and to be honest, I LOVE IT! My brain is constantly challenged and I am never bored. Now, I certainly do not love the problems these tech snags cause others, but I do enjoy the problem solving process and getting to help the students and staff of Apopka High School. During lunches and after school I am fortunate enough to get to chat with students about what they are currently reading and check out books to them. You would not believe some of the avid readers we have on this campus! Some check out 3-4 novels a week and based on these discussions I know they are not only reading them, but appreciating them as well.


Do you have any other interests and activities outside of being the Digital Media Specialist at AHS?

One of my favorite activities is being a part of the Apopka High football chain gang. I have been running the down markers on the sideline of the Apopka football games for over 20 years.


Do you ever see yourself going to another school other than Apopka and why?

Absolutely not. When I first started in education I wanted to be a “lifer” at the school I first started. However, there was a serendipitous opportunity that arose that allowed me to come to Apopka High. This is my home and I plan on finishing out my career in education here.

What is your favorite part about being here at our school?

AHS is a family. I went here, my husband went here, my children go here and I have known many of the students since elementary school. There are not many chances in life, much less employment opportunities where you can see the growth that occurs in people over this extended period of time. The culture of this school is one of a close, yet extended family, and I am honored to be a part of it.