Andrew Cox enjoys describing himself as a classic computer geek.
The Aiken County School District’s new technology director is succeeding Dal Stanley, who will retire in January after 27 years with the district.
Cox also has enjoyed a long career in technology – starting at Aiken Elementary School. His mother, Dale Smith, was teaching there at that time and encouraged his enthusiasm by providing an Apple II computer at home.
“The principal, Lynette Rinehart, was one of my heroes,” Cox said. “She was huge in technology, and even the school song included lyrics how more computers were on the way. We had two Apple IIs in every classroom.”
If the teachers had a computer issue, Cox was always willing to help. By the 1990s, he was working on computers around town at a time when the Internet was emerging, and “I was the weird kid who brought his laptop to school.”
Cox went on to graduate from the University of South Carolina and then obtain a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. Cox acknowledged that his work toward a law career proved to be a detour. He spent two years with Apple, working in schools before getting the technology director’s position with the McCormick County School District.
In that small community, Cox was essentially a one-man show, providing the tech support at the schools. Still, he welcomed the opportunity to work with all levels of technology. In a demonstration there, Cox rolled out a little computer with 16 terabytes of storage – more than the contents of every book in the Library of Congress.
Cox is thrilled to return home and get started with a much larger technology department. The Aiken District has a staff of 16 to keep running 12,000 computers, 2,000 iPads and 2,000 iPods. During Dal Stanley’s tenure, he saw the number of computer labs grow to 120. The virtualization of systems has become prevalent, reducing much of the need for in-house applications.
Since arriving at the Aiken School District office, Cox has been visiting schools to get to know principals and staff. In just a few years, he has seen even small children using smart devices that would have astounded engineers a generation ago. In his new role, Cox will strive to keep current equipment and systems going and moving it forward.
Technology “is also providing more data collection in order to see what kids are having trouble with in class,” Cox said. “Computers let us analyze data to help teachers in the classroom.”