Podcast | Embedding Cybersecurity Into K-12 Culture

October 13, 2021


Episode 21: Embedding Cybersecurity Into K-12 Culture

Cybersecurity continues to be at the top of the priority list for district technology leaders, but school districts still find themselves falling victim to cyberattacks.

K-12 education—in its nature—has a culture of sharing, accessibility, and openness. Embracing cloud collaboration applications like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 has extended this culture outside the school building. It’s a culture empowering students to learn about the world in their own way.

Students ask all the questions they would like, collaborate and share ideas with one another, and have the freedom to explore any topic they wish to on the internet—as long as the content is safe and appropriate for school. Teachers have the freedom to teach classes the way they find most impactful and, ultimately, give students the resources needed to succeed.

It’s clear cybersecurity must be embedded into K-12 culture more. And in a way that doesn’t hinder the openness of education. District IT teams cannot be the only ones leading the charge. The entire district administration, teachers, and parents need to be behind the collective effort to better protect schools. How can IT teams and school districts as a whole embed cybersecurity into their culture?

For this episode of The K-12 Tech Experience, we are joined by David Mendez, the Information Security Lead at Region 10 Education Service Center in Texas. Region 10 supports over 130 school districts, charter schools, and private schools—giving David a lot of perspective when it comes to bringing cybersecurity into the culture of K-12 education.

Continue reading on to learn more about David and Region 10, and get a preview of our conversation (edited for brevity). Listen to the rest of the conversation by clicking on the podcast player on this page and subscribe so you never miss the newest episode of The K-12 Tech Experience!

JK: Before we dive in and get going, I was hoping you could share more about yourself, your career so far, and some background on Region 10 for our listeners today.

DM: One of the things I like about cybersecurity is that it’s never too late to start. For me, I’ve done a ton of different jobs—my career is all over the place. I started at a school district picking up attendance sheets. I did that until an opportunity opened up and I thought it would be great to help out as a technician.

I then got the opportunity to be a technology director at a charter school in the south Dallas area. Now, I’m at the Service Center. I’ve been here almost three years as a Technical Project Manager, managing a fiber project, and also helping out with cybersecurity needs as an Information Security Lead.

JK: With the school year now underway, what have been those bigger initiatives that Region 10 helped school districts undertake to prepare for this school year?

DM: We get a pretty decent picture as to what the needs are and how it’s been changing over time. First and foremost, what we focused on is “we are here to serve” in whatever capacity. Legislation is changing, laws are changing, culture is changing. We have to be that unshakeable foundation to be safe and secure and be able to help students, staff, and support schools.

We’ve done that by using more collaborative tools. Putting out best practices. Helping teachers teach from remote locations and in person. All while being cognizant of the security concerns that are out there. It’s complex, but we’re trying to dance this dance as best as possible to be able to support our school districts.

Listen to the rest of our conversation with David below and check out previous episodes on the ManagedMethods podcast page. Make sure to subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience wherever you listen to your podcasts, so you never miss an episode!