Laurie Underwood, Information Technology Director, Receives NBOA Professional Achievement Award
Dover, NH, December 14, 2023 – Laurie Underwood, IT Director at Portsmouth Christian Academy, was the recipient of the 2023 Professional Achievement Award from the National Business Officers Association (NBOA).
The award honors business and operations staff at independent school who have made significant and lasting contributions to their school’s operations or financial health. These staff members distinguish themselves every day and make exceptional contributions to their schools and the independent school community.
Underwood was one of only 15 independent school business office staff members across the world to receive the 2023 NBOA Professional Achievement Award.
Laurie’s role is that of IT Director/Director of Instructional Technology. Laurie and her “team” of less than 1.5 full-time equivalent employees direct, manage, maintain, and implement all IT-related devices and efforts within our school consisting of 3 buildings on a 50-acre campus with over 665 students and over 130 employees. Laurie arrived during “covid” and immediately set to work helping us to navigate technology needs that were enormous, helping us steward funding that was made available through the New Hampshire Department of Education to help meet these needs. She integrated educational technology – taking us to a whole new place we have never been and moved our faculty there too. She co-chairs our ed-tech committee as they work to ever better apply technology to learning in ways that will enrich our program.
Her most recent accomplishment was the rollout this month of a 1:1 laptop program for our Upper School (grades 9-12, 178 students). This was preceded by a 1:1 rollout last year for students in grades 3 through 8 (280 students). All of this needed the support of additional access points throughout the buildings. Concurrent with this have been other initiatives to include implementation and deployment of a new learning management system (Canvas) and expansion of our streaming abilities to support school events and provide international access so all parents can “participate” in these activities.
She has enhanced the physical and cyber safety and security of the school in ways that had not been done in the past. She has researched and implemented a visitor security management system (Ident-a-kid); implemented a Gallagher key fob/security system across all three buildings; and implemented and installed a Spot AI security camera system across all three buildings which will provide enhanced ability to monitor both the interior and exterior of our buildings.
“Laurie is constantly looking for ways to improve what we do and to streamline operations in a way that maximizes our abilities as we seek to do the same with our students. She supports our operations in her stewardship of the limited funds available, always looking for the best prices and negotiating with vendors for the best possible terms. She embraces learning personally and models that for both employees and students as she is constantly seeking relevant additional certifications and trainings that will add greater value to our programs. She gives sacrificially of her time to ensure that needs are met across the school,” said Chief Financial Officer, Sarah Leavitt.
“The spirit of Laurie’s leadership galvanizes the entire school in ways that make us better. In the relatively short time that she has been with us, she has come to be loved and appreciated by all and we are so proud and thankful for the contributions she has made and continues to make on a daily basis.”
“Laurie Underwood is a remarkable and uniquely gifted educational leader,” adds Head of School Mike Runey. “She has combined her experience as a school technician with her love for students and teachers in ways that have enabled us to grow and thrive as a school. She does it all, from planning to building systems to communicating and teaching. She also leads her small, dedicated team well, and we are so grateful for Laurie commitment and joyful perseverance. Her faith shines through in what she does and how she does it.”
The award was presented at the December All-Staff Meeting.
For more information about the award, visit https://www.nboa.org/about-nboa/awards/professional-achievement-award
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About NBOA: The National Business Officers Association (NBOA) is the only national nonprofit membership association dedicated to developing, delivering and promoting best business practices to advance independent schools. The association has over 1,500 member organizations including over 1,300 independent schools from the United States and 25 other countries around the globe. NBOA offers national conferences, online professional development, original research and an award-winning magazine.