Once, Chue Lee’s dream job was to design video games. But with competition fierce and jobs scarce in that industry, he pivoted to education in 2015 after graduating from college. A succession of increased responsibilities through two Central Valley school districts has led him to Denair, where he has been hired as the district’s new IT manager.
“Chue impressed the interview panel with his enthusiasm, tech knowledge and skills, and his understanding that the tech department is critical to supporting teaching and learning,” said Denair Superintendent Terry Metzger.
Lee arrives in Denair after five years with the Kerman Unified School District near Fresno, where he steadily rose through the IT ranks after being hired in 2017. Before that, he worked in the Merced City School District in the city in which he grew up.
It was Lee’s sister who first got him interested in technology as a career. She was into app development for Apple devices and pushed him to do the same. He attended DeVry University in Pomona,California, graduating in 2015 with a degree in software development with a concentration in web game programming.
He returned to Merced after college, but after six months of not finding opportunity in the video game field, Lee turned to education. He hasn’t looked back since.
One of his strengths, Lee said, is working with administrators and teachers to extract and analyze student test data. In Kerman, which has about 5,500 students, he also developed a program to purge student and staff accounts each year, saving that district about $6,000 a year.
The pandemic put a premium on technology, with students across the country forced to move to distance learning for part of 2020 and 2021. It also put more pressure than ever on IT staffs, who had to make sure teachers and students could stay connected.
“Distance learning was a lot of work,” Lee said. “We had plans for something and all of sudden they would change and we had to rethink our thought process.”
In Denair, he will manage the district’s small IT team, which is responsible for all the tech needs of the 1,200 students, plus the staff, administrators and others who are dependent on computers.
“Basically, everything that requires the IT department,” he said.
Until his job interview, Lee had never been to Denair. All he knew was it is east of Turlock. What he is sure of is that his new job means he will cut his daily commute from his home in Merced in half – from 100 miles roundtrip to Kerman to 50 to and from Denair.
“I’m looking forward to spending less time in the car each day,” Lee said.