Insider Look: Mr. Jim LaPlante

Mr. LaPlante works at the College as Executive Director of Information and Innovation. Below is a brief interview with him discussing a range of topics:

When did you join UCC?

I started at UCC in June 2008

What does being Executive Director of Information and Innovation at UCC entail?

I work as part of a team that supports Help Desk service and support, data and analytics, and curriculum and skill development among employees. We make sure that all IT systems work for everyone at the College and work closely with the senior leaders to implement policy (acceptable use, Wi-Fi access, etc). I also work closely with other departments across the school to research, develop, and implement projects like the implementation of MYP, the 9-day timetable, and the digital innovation and design thinking program at the College.

What’s the best part of your job?

I really like working in a school environment. I started my career as a physics and mathematics teacher, but there was a period when I worked as a developer at IBM and as a consultant for a large school board. Those were great experiences, but was very pleased to get the opportunity to come back to working in a school environment; first at Havergal and then here at UCC. I like the cycle of the school year and I like the opportunities to work with students, like supporting the golf team and being involved in the military history trip with Mr. MacDonald. I am also highly involved in connecting and working with schools across Canada. That is a real treat!

What’s the worst part of your job?

Mountains of email. I just think if you cannot say it in a paragraph, pick up the phone and have a conversation.

What’s one thing you wish more students knew about you?

That is a tough one! I worked in a record store when I was in high school (just like in the movie High Fidelity) so I have a ridiculous amount of useless 80s music knowledge. That, along with mountains of other useless knowledge, makes me a popular partner for trivia games. I have a guitar collection, about which my family teases me relentlessly. That is three things. Sorry.

What are your plans for this year and upcoming years in regard to UCC involvement?

There are several interesting projects on the go this year: augmented reality in the primary classrooms, virtual reality in the upper art classes, using AI to tailor skill development in some employees, and working with departments to use data to drive decision-making. Other projects might not be so exciting but very important: mapping and securing private data, a new backup internet line, implementing a content filter that allows for more access for those who need it, and external audits of our google and network environment. Each of these projects connects me to different people on my team and different people at the College. It is always an interesting place to work and there are always new projects on the horizon.

Where can we normally find you?

My office is down by the Help Desk in the Upper School.

What song does everyone need to hear?

That is a tough one.  I think the album experience was more significant than an individual song.  That is something that is somewhat lost when accessing music through streaming services.  I think albums like Springsteen’s Born to Run, The Who’s Who’s Next, The Beatles Abbey Road, Rush’s Moving Pictures, or U2’s The Joshua Tree are all great examples of albums I like to listen to from beginning to end.  There are many more examples – Genesis Genesis, The Clash’s London Calling.