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Ankeny is this year’s EDDY recipient at BEA

By Staff | Jun 28, 2020

Brandon Ankeny, pictured above, sits by one of the iMacs used by students at the Blue Earth Area Middle School.

Brandon Ankeny is this year’s recipient of the EDDY award.

The EDDY is an award given out by the Blue Earth Area School District to a non-certified staff member who has had a positive impact on students and made a multitude of contributions to the BEA community.

Ankeny is an IT Specialist at BEA and has been with the district for 17 years.

“He is one of those employees you value greatly because he is able to problem solve and handle everything in stride,” BEA superintendent Mandy Fletcher, who was a classmate of Ankeny’s in high school, says. “And he does all of it with a positive attitude.”

BEA technology and media director Jennifer Berkner adds her thoughts on her co-worker.

Brandon Ankeny is the IT Specialist for BEA and has been employed by the district for 17 years.

“Brandon’s approach to people is what really makes him successful on the job,” Berkner shares. “He is kind and patient and often has to work with people when they are having trouble and are frustrated. His calm demeanor enables them to work through the situation.”

Ankeny summarizes his duties at BEA.

“I maintain the network, the wireless system, the devices the teachers and the students use, the email and the Google Suite which the school uses,” Ankeny explains.

He has a degree in computer programming from South Central College in Mankato but says the degree really is not necessary.

“Things change so fast in the IT field,” Ankeny relates. “So what you learn in college can become obsolete very fast.”

He was not really hired outright to work at BEA. He says he kind of “transitioned” into the job.

“David Sparks, who was a teacher at BEA, approached me after church one day and told me he needed help setting up a computer lab,” Ankeny comments. “I helped him and then the next summer he had another project for me. Eventually I was working two and a half days a week and then it became a full-time job.”

His father Bruce gets at least some of the credit for the younger Ankeny’s interest in technology.

“My father owned a Radio Shack in Blue Earth,” Ankeny shares. “I loved to tinker with things and figure out how they worked.”

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a change to the way students were educated.

“The switch to distance learning meant we had to make sure sites were not blocked,” Ankeny comments. “And I had to repair the Chromebooks myself. Normally, I have high school student technicians who fix the Chromebooks. But, because the school was closed, they were not available.”

It took two days just to get all of the devices working, according to Ankeny.

“The Chromebooks are a good option to use for education,” Ankeny says. “They self-update and are pretty reliable.”

Chromebooks are not the only devices he maintains for the district.

“We have PCs, iMacs and iPads in use at the school,” Ankeny notes. “So we maintain those also.”

Ankeny talks about the changes he has seen with computers and education in his time at BEA.

“We used to have a dozen computer labs and now everyone has their own device,” he notes. “We have also changed from local file storage to Google Cloud Storage. We have seen the integration of technology into the classroom.”

Berkner has also seen the changes in technology and gives Ankeny credit for how smooth the transition to new technology is.

“Brandon is able to adopt to the changes in education and grow with them,” Berkner says.

And Ankeny says he and the staff keep on learning.

“With so many things being done by computer we have to make sure data remains safe,” he says. “We take cyber security training through Bevcomm and it is important we stay educated in that area.”

So how does he occupy his time when he is not working at the school?

“I love spending time outside with my family,” Ankeny shares. “My wife Ana and I have four boys. The oldest is 11 and the youngest will turn four this August. I also enjoy playing guitar.”

The EDDY award is not presented before a crowded auditorium with a big stage like the well known Emmy awards. But if it were, you can bet Ankeny would be calling others up on the stage to share the award.

“I really work with the best people and they deserve this award as much as I do,” Ankeny states. “Jen Berkner, Sarah Frederickson, Carolyn Kennedy, and Nancy Steinke all work so hard and make me look good; it is really a team effort.”