Thursday, June 20, marked the third annual Summer Tech Cookout organized by Plymouth Community School Corporation (PCSC) and the Northern Indiana Educational Services Center (NIESC). The event, held at Menominee Elementary School, attracted 99 IT workers from 20 different school districts. Participants ranged from Technology Directors to System Administrators, Help Desk Coordinators, and more. The day began with coffee and donuts, followed by a series of games with prizes, and a taco bar catered by PCSC Food Services. Attendees also had the opportunity to engage with vendors present at the event.

Technology workers from various school corporations attended the Summer Tech Cookout, including Bremen Public Schools, Caston School Corporation, East Porter County School Corporation, John Glenn School Corporation, Knox Community School Corporation, Lakeland School Corporation, Middlebury Community Schools, MSD of Steuben County, North Judson, North Miami Community Schools, Oregon-Davis School Corporation, Plymouth Community School Corporation, Rochester Community School Corporation, School City of Mishawaka, South Bend Community School Corporation, South Central Community School Corporation, Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation, Triton School Corporation, Union North United School Corporation, Wawasee Community School Corporation, and Whitley County Consolidated Schools.

The event’s success was significantly supported by its table sponsors. BenQ Education, Empower Learning, Loud & Clear Communications, Luma Audio & Video, Office Interiors, Smart Technologies/CDW-G, Vivi, and Zoom provided essential resources and displays that enriched the attendees’ experience.

Event sponsors added an extra layer of excitement with various activities. In the gymnasium, Gaggle sponsored a Cornhole tournament, ParentSquare hosted the Hole-in-One challenge, Bullwall had a Marshmallow Drive, Avant Blue provided Pickleball games, and Ed Analytics offered Ping Pong matches. In the hallways, additional games sponsored by generous organizations added to the fun. RTI sponsored the Blackjack game, Secured Tech Solutions sponsored Euchre, and Bullwall/TeleData sponsored Trivia. These games offered attendees opportunities to relax, unwind, and network with their peers in a light-hearted and enjoyable setting.

A special mention goes to the PCSC Technology Department, who assisted in setting up the event and ensuring everything ran smoothly. PCSC’s Custodial, Maintenance, and Food Service staff also went to great lengths to ensure the event was a success.

The event served as a celebration of the vital role technology workers play in the education sector. Often working behind the scenes, these dedicated professionals ensure that school districts function efficiently in many ways, from maintaining crucial infrastructure to supporting classroom technology and safeguarding data. Their contributions are essential to the seamless operation of educational institutions, and events like the Summer Tech Cookout highlight and honor their invaluable work.

Darlene Kennedy, NIESC Director of Technology Integration, expressed her gratitude for these individuals, noting that NIESC aims to  “celebrate a successful year, supporting K-12 education in Northern Indiana,” by holding this event. When she addressed the group in the morning, she smiled, stating “You all are my favorite people.” It was evident this group is a community.

PCSC and NIESC look forward to continuing this tradition and building upon the success of this year’s event in the future.

The Summer Tech Cookout stands as a testament to the collaborative spirit and dedication of the IT community within the educational sector of Northern Indiana. The event not only highlights the importance of technology in education but also strengthens the bonds among professionals dedicated to enhancing the learning experience for students across the region.

Photo: 1 Left to right Laura Unsicker, NIESC Stem Specialist and Darlene Kennedy, NIESC Director of Technology Integration

2 Group photo from morning kick-off