One of North Carolina’s best features is the Southern Outer Banks and the Crystal Coast. Comprised mostly of the coastline of Carteret County, the Crystal Coast is known for its rich history, cozy beach towns, and perfect fishing conditions. Tourists flock to towns like Emerald Isle, Beaufort and Morehead City every summer to learn about Blackbeard, visit Fort Macon and the view wild horses of Shackleford Banks. After the summer visitors have left, local schools go into session and Carteret County Public School System’s IT Director Wes Rinehart and his team go into high gear.
Due to the growing trend of online testing and technology initiatives set forth by school boards across North Carolina, many school systems such as the Carteret County Public School System are assigning county-owned devices like Google Chromebooks, or students are bringing their own devices to school. Teachers are also purchasing tablets and other technology to upgrade their learning environments. Studies have shown that the modern day student or teacher may be working with two devices at any given moment. The mixture of devices and ownership creates unique security challenges for the school system, whose responsibility is to ensure the security of its internal data.
In preparation for the upcoming school year, Rinehart approached Carolina Advanced Digital, Inc. last winter to redesign the network for the Carteret County school system. New to the school system, Rinehart collaborated with outside partners and Todd Williamson, Director of Instructional Technology, to increase access to resources, expand coverage and enhance the usability of user applications. Carolina Advanced Digital Pro Services, specifically Network Engineer Rob Baxley, helped to redesign a logical segmented network, and to integrate a Network Access Control (NAC) solution into the existing infrastructure. By the end of this fall, network administrators will be able to manage the network more efficiently and accommodate the demand for more users and devices within any of the system’s 17 schools and 3 office sites.
The NAC solution that was chosen for this project was Network Sentry by Bradford Networks. When a user logs into a work station in a Carteret County school, Network Sentry determines which permissions are assigned to their credentials. The device being used can also be recognized as either a personal device or a Carteret County owned device. By streamlining the onboarding process with the NAC solution provided by Carolina Advanced Digital, Carteret County Public School System’s IT Department is given more flexibility to provide more specific and efficient services to the user—an administrator, teacher, student, or guest.
“It’s no secret our K-12 schools haven’t had the same focus on security as other industries, but the environment in schools is starting to change as network demands increase, and network availability becomes paramount in support of new digital initiatives like online testing,” states Jennifer Minella, VP of Engineering at Carolina Advanced Digital. “We are excited to work with Wes and his team at the Carteret County Public School System. He is leading the district to progressive initiatives and staying focused on ensuring the best student experience.”
By taking the appropriate steps to secure data, Rinehart is building a safer network where data is contained and managed properly. Ultimately, this project will save the Carteret County Public School System staff time, and that equates to savings that can be used in other areas to heighten the quality of education for local students. Implementing new technologies will greatly increase the security, performance, availability and manageability of the district’s networks, devices and users.
“Carolina Advanced Digital, and especially Rob, was instrumental in the success of this project,” Rinehart said. “Having intelligent and secure systems that can be managed efficiently is key to the operations of our school system, and we have that in place now. Carolina Advanced Digital was adaptive and accepting of the changes that needed to be made along the way, and our school system will greatly benefit from this project.”