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Behind the scenes: TILM department shares range of expertise

Rowan Hamilton
Nadjib Aktouf, Karen Field and Mark Chapin are part of of the Technology, Information Literacy and Media sections of TILM, respectively. Each member unpacked their role in the TILM department and its impact on students behind the scenes. Credit: Rowan Hamilton

The Technology, Information Literacy and Media (TILM) department has provided an “access point” for English Teacher Eve Ellis. Ellis said she teaches multiple classes that require a mixture of analog and digital tools, which is why she values the department and the help it provides.

“My professional life and personal life are, like, inextricably bound up with technology,” Ellis said. 

Director of Technology Nadjib Aktouf said TILM is responsible for a range of school practices, from providing licensing for songs during sports practices to the libraries’ budgets. He said TILM is a large team in which “everybody has a role to play.” 

Yet, Aktouf said most of the responsibilities held by the TILM department take place behind the scenes, and students may be unaware of their work. 


Aktouf said he works in the Technology section of TILM alongside IT Administrator Ash Lazar. Both are data protection officers for the school, which Aktouf said plays a crucial part of the school’s ability to keep technological tools running.

“A big aspect of our day-to-day job is cybersecurity and making sure that our information systems are safe,” Aktouf said. 

Within the technology division department, several specialists are responsible for myriad delegated tasks. Aktouf said IT Administrator, System Administrator, Database Manager and Network Manager are the four specialized roles involved, although he said there are also coordinators and support specialists. 

“Everything is collaborative,” Aktouf said. “Even though I work on many different projects … there’s a large team.”

To support students and faculty, Aktouf said he strives to ensure “all our systems from our wireless technology to our email system to Schoology and everything in between works day-to-day.”

With such a large quantity of digital tools in the school, Aktouf said most of the managing and protection occurs through systems and algorithms. For example, he said the school’s Wi-Fi system can block dangerous sites and notify the technology administrators if there is a serious issue. 

I love the community feel about it. You have a group of people that are highly dedicated.

— IT Administrator Ash Lazar

“That helps us make sure that our systems are secure for the future,” Aktouf said. “If there is a concern, we flagged that to the right person in the administration.”

Ultimately, Lazar said the team camaraderie is the highlight of his job.

“I love the community feel about it,” Lazar said. “You have a group of people that are highly dedicated.”

Information Literacy 

Head of Information Literacy Karen Field said her co-workers include two Lower School librarians, TILM Co-Teacher Staci Fox in the Middle School and two assistants in the High School: Circulation Manager Stephen Reed and Cataloging Manager Joanna Gentry. 

While Field said her day predominantly consists of checking out books and managing the library resources, she also oversees digital resources for the school beyond the Mellon Library.

 “Another big part of my day is … looking at statistics about usage of those, like, the databases and everything to try to decide what do we need, what do we keep, what do we get rid of,” Field said. 

Field said her job entails planning meetings, buying books and ensuring systems work properly. Field said her responsibilities also involve troubleshooting, namely issues with databases or credit cards for the library.

Moreover, Field said she enjoys collaborating with students.

“It’s just fun to work with kids and watch them as they try to figure out … how to do research, where to find things,” Field said. “I like watching students sometimes who have been struggling and just like, through tenacity, and you know, just like keep going until they find something and be proud of themselves that at the end of the day.” 

Field said a challenge of her job is planning her schedule wisely, including allowing time for bigger projects. She said one of her current tasks is working with the administration to create a course to raise awareness around plagiarism and academic integrity. 

Field said another aspect of her job is helping teachers educate students on information and digital literacy skills. She said she has a tight schedule as she teaches these concepts from K-12. 

“Depending on how the schedule is, I’m teaching seven of eight periods, right, in two days,” she said. “I have very little time to do other stuff.”


School Center Manager Mark Chapin said he is in charge of the Media sector of TILM, along with Senior Media Technician Josef Harris and Media Support Specialist Jemima Neto. Chapin is responsible for overseeing the School Center, including controlling lights, microphones and special effects during events. 

Chapin said he has worked in his role for seven years and yet never gets bored. He said he loves working with technology because it is “always evolving.” 

“There’s always something new to learn and new to accomplish,” Chapin said. “Just when I’m getting tired of doing one thing, I get to switch over to do something else.”

Most of the time, Chapin said students do not recognize he is in the booth, which he considers the goal of his position. 

“People will often ask me if a microphone is on,” Chapin said. “They don’t realize that I’m actually up here adjusting the microphone while the event is going on.”

Day-to-day, Chapin said he handles scheduling with facilities, answering emails and coordinating lights, sound and effects for events. 

“There’s days when I’m, like, waiting for the next thing to happen,” Chapin said. “There might be a rehearsal in the morning and then nothing until four in the afternoon, so I try to fill my time with preparing things or whatnot.”

I sometimes question if it’s worth throwing all this money and effort at things. But then when I watched that happen, I think ‘it’s worth it.’

— School Center Manager Mark Chapin

Chapin said the biggest challenge the Media team faces is keeping up with the newest technology. 

“Everything changes so rapidly,” Chapin said. “If students are going to be directly involved with it, we want them to be having an experience with what the industry is doing at the time, and so we’re constantly researching what products to be using, what software to use.” 

However, Chapin said he loves seeing students in action because they “step up their game” during performances with the special effects he adds. 

“I sometimes question if it’s worth throwing all this money and effort at things,” he said. “But then when I watched that happen, I think ‘it’s worth it.’”

Ultimately, Aktouf said the TILM team’s work, which often goes unnoticed, is integral to community members’ daily lives.

“Technology is such a kind of ubiquitous part of student lives in the classrooms and even outside of class time,” Aktouf said. “All our systems, from our wireless technology to our email system to Schoology, and everything in-between works day-to-day so that not only the students have what they need to be learning appropriately and properly, but also teachers have the tools that they need to teach.” 

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