TSTC grad trains teachers with creative educational technology at area school district

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TSTC alumnus Mark Anthony Pinon (right) reviews MerchCube, an augmented virtual reality software, with Annette Gonzalez, a seventh grade English teacher at Lyford Middle School. (Courtesy: Texas State Technical College/TSTC)

HARLINGEN — Texas State Technical College alumnus Mark Anthony Pinon is proud of the trajectory that his life has taken, from working in the construction industry to currently working with instructional technology at the Lyford Consolidated Independent School District.

“I collaborate with each campus’s administration about the planning of instructional technology that I design,” the San Benito resident said. “I teach strategies and instructional materials that teachers use in their classrooms, such as MerchCube. With that program, a teacher will choose a lesson with their iPad and place a black cube underneath the device’s camera. Once the object is detected, an interactive lesson will be displayed for a student to do, such as identifying planets in the solar system.”

Years ago Pinon developed an interest in researching computer hardware, and that became the spark that would lead him to an education at TSTC.

“The Computer Systems Management Technology (now Computer Networking and Systems Administration) program at TSTC’s Harlingen campus offered courses in preventative maintenance, upgrades and other related skills that I wanted to attain,” he said.

Pinon graduated from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in the program in 2013.

Three months later, he accepted a job as a full-time copier technician with Dahill Office Technology (now Xerox) in Pharr.

“I performed new service installs that involved setting up computers to print and serviced the mechanical side of the copiers,” he said.

After four years of gaining industry experience, Pinon transitioned to being a full-time computer technician with Lyford CISD in 2017. Two years later he was promoted to being a network technician, and currently he is an instructional technology specialist.

Laura Juarez, chief academic officer at Lyford CISD, said Pinon’s efforts are a critical component of supporting the campus administrators with the integration, implementation and extension of lessons through the use of technology.

“Mark’s experience on our team provides an excellent resource for our district,” Juarez said. “He’s a passionate advocate for the continuation of our technology advancement for our staff and students.”

Michelle C. DeWitt, superintendent at Lyford CISD, said Pinon encourages creative thinking and innovation, which has helped him to develop new and effective ways of integrating technology into educational settings.

“Administrators and teachers feel supported by Mark and value the feedback he provides as he assists staff with the use of technology implementation in the classrooms,” DeWitt said. “He does an extraordinary job by keeping up with new tools and trends in this rapidly evolving field.”

Pinon credits his success to the training he received at TSTC.

“The hands-on learning, problem-solving challenges and cutting-edge technology that I learned in the Computer Management Systems Technology program was rewarding,” he said.

According to onetonline.org, network and computer systems administrators in Texas can earn a median salary of $85,380 a year. The website projected that there would be a 20% increase in the number of such jobs in the state from 2020 to 2030.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration online through all 10 campuses and in person at the Abilene, Brownwood, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.