Cedar Hill ISD Technology Department Has Longhorn Roots
When Neil Bolton joined the Cedar Hill ISD Technology Department more than 25 years ago, he never knew that the Department would one day have a large contingent of CHISD Alumni.
Bolton, a Cedar Hill High School Class of 1996 Graduate and current Cedar Hill citizen, became the Executive Director of Technology in 2014, at the age of 36.
He started in the Department putting desktop computers in classrooms in October 1996 – just five months after graduating from CHHS. Bolton was the Lead Help Desk Technician from 2001-2008 and a Network Administrator from 2008-2013.
“We’ve seen so many changes in technology – from floppy discs and no Internet when I started,” Bolton said. “In those days, computers would fail a lot. Now, they don’t because most software is online.”
Once he became Executive Director, Bolton started a summer program to “build and grow scholars interested in Technology and to fill positions when they open up.”
Today, seven of CHISD’s 20 Technology Employees – Maria Estrada (2008), Lakarius Butler (2015), Kyle Minor (2017), Cedric Sifflet (2009), Guillermo Santoyo (2018) and Brandon Wall (1999) – are CHISD Graduates. Many of these employees began their foray into the Department through the Summer Program.
“I take a lot of pride in Cedar Hill – the city is my home,” said Bolton, who is the President of Cedar Hill Shares Food Pantry and Leadership Southwest. “I want to give Cedar Hill graduates an opportunity to learn and get a foot in the door. I tell my employees I’ve been in your position already. They knew they could come to me and talk. It gives me an extra sense of pride working for the district”
The first CHHS Graduate to learn from Bolton was Wall, a Network Administrator who attended CHISD since Kindergarten.
“I grew up here and wanted to make things better,” Wall said.
Wall began working with CHISD as a scholar in the late 1990s and went to work for the City of Cedar Hill for eight years, before returning to the district.
The most recent graduate to join the department is Guillermo Santoyo.
“I always knew I wanted to work with computers,” said Santoyo, who attended CHISD from first grade through graduation.
Santoyo, a Campus Technical Assistant and Cedar Hill citizen, left the district to work in the private sector briefly but then returned.
“We have such a friendly atmosphere in our department,” Santoyo said.
Estrada, who worked as Custodian for CHISD from 2014-2020, joined the Technology Department last August. She works as a Campus Technology Assistant, managing Chromebooks at several campuses.
“I love it – you definitely get a different experience looking at it from the other perspective,” Estrada said. “It’s great to have an opportunity to grow in such a great place as CHISD.”
Sifflet, like Wall, graduated from Northwood University. He took a technology class in high school, which sparked his interest. Sifflet is a Network Database Administrator who began his work with the district as a Campus Technician.
Butler took a computer class with Cedar Hill High School 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year Aaron Kennedy.
“I graduated early and learned a lot about computers,” Butler said. “I never expected to work here, but I’m glad that I’m here.”
Butler, a Campus Technician, worked part-time for the district in 2015 and went full-time in 2018.
Minor, a Cedar Hill citizen, started a Library Aide and now is a Campus Technical Assistant.
“Technology was an interest of mine growing up - Cedar Hill ISD gave me the opportunity,” said Minor, who graduated from the University of North Texas in 2020.