Building a Virtualized Ecosystem—How to Cloud Like an IT Boss

The cloud is quickly becoming a buzzword in education, but how is it really being leveraged in school districts?

Join leaders from Tennessee’s McMinn County Schools and the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) as they share their operational and risk management strategies and describe how they are harnessing the power of the cloud to access, store, manage, and secure their data and digital investments.

From building sustainable and scalable virtualized environments to protecting district data from cybersecurity threats and natural disasters, the endless opportunities afforded by cloud technologies are revolutionizing today’s digital ecosystems.

Meet Your Speakers

Kenneth Thompson
Chief Information Technology Officer
San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD)

Dr. Kenneth J. Thompson is the Chief Information Technology Officer for the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD).  SAISD serves approximately 55,000 students in more than 100 locations.  He joined the SAISD team in 2018 after serving for the Baltimore City Public Schools CITO.  He has more than 20 years’ experience in leading complex IT service delivery organizations and leveraging IT resources to assist K-12 organizations in achieving organizational goals. Throughout his years as an IT executive, he has continued to maintain an ongoing focus on creating strategies to assist with the advancement of 21st century education in urban school districts; while simultaneously building a cohesive and competent IT team. He is most comfortable when he is combining his technical expertise with strong business and financial acumen to build and create an IT environment conducive for achieving student success. Kenneth is most noted for enhancing the educational environment by working with stakeholders are different levels recommending, managing, and validating the appropriate technology resources and enterprise systems to facilitate learning while improving student performance by utilizing the appropriate technology tools and processes.


Jill Pierce
Chief Technology Officer
McMinn County Schools, TN

Jill Pierce is the Chief Technology Officer at McMinn County School System (McMinn) and has worked in instructional technology for over 24 years. She is a Microsoft Certified Educator and holds a Microsoft Education Trainer Certification. Pierce was selected as an Intel Education Visionary based on her insight, passion, and proven expertise as an agent of change in education. Through that experience, she has had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other Intel Education Visionaries around the world; attend global conferences and receive unique professional learning opportunities. She leverages her experiences and expertise to lead McMinn forward in the use of technology.

Pierce has not only impacted the learning in McMinn, she has been a driver of change at the state level as well. She worked with a team of technology leaders to establish positive changes and stability within the E-rate program. Additionally, Ms. Pierce has worked closely with the Tennessee state commissioner to advocate for equitable access to assessment tools, online testing infrastructure needs, and training for teachers and administrators.


Simone Welter
Senor Product Manager
Education Networks of America

Simone Welter is a senior product manager at Education Networks of America. Having spent the past decade delivering cloud products to IBM customers across all industries, Simone is delighted to bring ENA’s uniquely designed cloud services to K-12 schools, libraries, and institutions of higher learning.


Rod Houpe
National Director of Business Development
Education Networks of America

Rod Houpe is the National Director of Business Development for Education Networks of America (ENA).  Rod has over 30 years of experience as an IT leader in K-12 and state government.  Early in his career he served as both Deputy CIO and CIO for the Ohio Department of Commerce, leading the department’s strategic IT initiatives.  Rod then went on to hold CIO positions at Columbus City Schools, Cleveland Public Library and most recently Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  He has extensive experience creating the technology vision and leading the strategic IT initiatives of multiple large enterprise K-12 organizations.  Rod has been an active member of CoSN and the Council of Great City Schools, presenting on best practices and serving on a number of peer review boards.  In addition, Rod served in a leadership role on a number of other advisory boards and non-profit organizations.  He has been the recipient of numerous state and national awards, a featured speaker at various IT conferences, and published numerous articles on technology innovation in public education.


Michael McKerley
Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Technology and Innovation
Education Networks of America

Michael McKerley is ENA’s Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Technology and Innovation. Michael joined ENA in 2000 and is responsible for managing ENA’s current suite of products and services, including the underlying technology architecture that enables them, as well as envisioning and delivering ENA’s future product and technology roadmap. He oversees the efforts of ENA’s architecture, R&D, product management, systems engineering, and software engineering teams. Michael is passionate about designing, developing, and deploying cost-effective, scalable, and reliable solutions that enable digital transformation in today’s K –12 schools, higher education institutions, and libraries.