Note: This is the second article in a series of monthly pieces highlighting the many devoted support staffers who serve Ferndale School District’s students. This month, we spent a day with District Data Coordinator Carrie Coslick and IT Help Desk Technician Marc Camacho – two technology-focused problem solvers who keep Ferndale schools running smoothly from behind the scenes.
Carrie Coslick had just received a request from the parent of a Ferndale elementary school student: they got locked out of their Skyward account. That means they couldn’t check their students’ grades or access attendance.
Coslick – the District Data Coordinator for Ferndale School District – is used to these kinds of questions. After doing some searching on the parent’s Skyward profile, she decides that resetting the password should fix the problem, and creates a new one. But when Coslick calls the parent back, she asks her identifying questions – “What’s your student’s birthday and middle name?” – before giving her the new password.
“I’m a pretty good gatekeeper about that stuff,” Coslick said. “I have to be really careful with kids’ information.”
The majority of Coslick’s duties revolve around the online data of Ferndale’s students: their schedules, their attendance records, their grades, and so on. She gathers that information from Ferndale school staff, double-checks its accuracy, and sends the necessary information to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Much of Coslick’s job is keeping student data safe, making sure the state has the right information, and ensuring that essential online educational tools for staff, students and families, like Skyward and Canvas, are functioning correctly.
“I’m okay with being in the background, making sure things work as smooth as possible,” Coslick said. “Myself and the other people on the tech team make sure everything just works.”
For example, on the first day of every month, school registrars and administrative assistants send Coslick their enrollment numbers on that day. She then double-checks those numbers and sends them to the state, and that headcount determines Ferndale School District’s funding.
Coslick also uploads all the school photos to Skyward – one of her favorite parts of the job.
“Their little pictures are the best!” she said.
A lot of Coslick’s job revolves around troubleshooting tech issues for staff, parents and students regarding Canvas and Skyward, and that’s an area she excels in. While she solves the problem, Coslick has a friendly demeanor, laughing and joking with the person she’s helping.
“I like solving a good problem, or as I call it, a Scooby-Doo mystery,” she said with a chuckle.
Coslick became interested in computers after taking classes at Ferndale High School in the mid-90s. After a brief stint as the district office administrative assistant in January 2002, she spent about 19 years as Ferndale’s accounts payable specialist before joining the technology team in February 2021. Coslick said she values being a part of that team.
“I love who I work with, and I love who I work for,” she said.
Later that afternoon at Vista Middle School, teacher Letha Nungesser came into the office of IT Help Desk Technician Marc Camacho. She needed a program installed onto her laptop that would translate text into printable Braille for students with vision impairments.
After some tinkering, Camacho quickly installed the program on Nungesser’s laptop. Nungesser excitedly thanked Camacho.
“My favorite part of the job is being able to help the people that support and teach students,” Camacho said afterwards. “A perfect example is Letha – just seeing her happy about that makes me happy. It gives me purpose.”
Camacho is one of three Ferndale School District technology staffers who solve problems at specific schools. Camacho handles the middle schools, Bryce Nelsen helps the elementary schools, and Bryan Piveral is stationed at Ferndale High School.
Each middle school gets two days a week where Camacho is on call to help with any technology related problems: a student’s document won’t save. Their laptop refuses to turn on. A student is marked as a sixth grader in the Canvas program despite being in eighth grade.
Camacho said he typically helps five to ten staff and/or students per day. The answer to many of these problems is asking the person to restart their laptop, Camacho said. Sometimes, students will not restart their laptop for over a month, causing all sorts of glitches, he said.
“If I have you work for five days straight, with no sleep, would you be able to function the following week?” Camacho said. “It’s the same thing with computers.”
If restarting doesn’t fix the problem, Camacho has a series of steps he tries next. First, he makes sure the software isn’t being blocked, or doesn’t need to be reinstalled. Then, he makes sure the user has the proper license to the program they’re trying to use. Finally, he makes sure there isn’t something wrong with the laptop hardware.
“When you’re typing your password and it doesn’t work, when you type “M”, does it actually show “M”?” Camacho said. “Maybe the key is broken, maybe there’s something stuck underneath there.”
Growing up on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, Camacho always had an interest in technology and how it works.
“Whenever I saw anything with a chip in it, like my remote control cars, I’d just take it apart and put it back together,” he said.
After serving in the U.S. Army in the artillery branch, Camacho settled in Bellingham in 2015 and began taking IT classes at Whatcom Community College. He’s been helping staff and students in Ferndale since May 2021.