Cathy Shults, Canajoharie’s “Computer Lady,” will soon be hanging up her keyboard and mouse when she retires in June.
Shults started her career at Canajoharie as a kitchen and lunchroom aide in 1986, but has been serving as computer coordinator for more than a decade after seeing her role in the district evolve.
Shults recalls that, when she started working as a library aide in 1989, “we had maybe six computers.” But as the years went on and the role of computers began to gain prominence, Shults was urged to go to college and get a degree.
So at the same time that one of her daughters was a student at the College of St. Rose, Shults entered college herself, taking classes at SUNY Cobleskill on the weekends while still working full-time at Canajoharie.
“My daughter and I actually graduated from college in the same year,” Shults recalled.
After receiving her Certificate of Information Science from SUNY Cobleskill in 1997, Shults began taking on more responsibilities to care for the district’s growing network of computers. In the early 2000s, Shults made the transition to full-time computer coordinator — or, as she has been greeted in the halls of East Hill, “the computer lady.”
While troubleshooting tech issues and juggling support tickets may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Shults has nothing but good things to say about her time at Canajoharie.
“I’ve loved every aspect of my job,” she says with a smile. “I love learning all the time, and the students are so great.”
And Shults emphasized that it takes more than technical knowledge to succeed in a role like hers.
“I love working with people, and to me, this job is about helping others,” she explained. “It’s so gratifying to be able to do that — maybe because I’m a mother, I like to fix things.”
Shults said it has been important to her to treat people with kindness and respect when they come to her with a problem.
“I don’t want people to feel embarrassed if they don’t know how to fix something,” she explained. “I want to empower them, and encourage them. I try to adapt myself to whoever I’m working with to make them feel comfortable.”
Shults said she feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in the same district where her children were students, giving her the chance to be deeply involved in the school.
“The faculty, the administration, the support staff and of course the students — they’ve all been wonderful,” Shults said. “I love being known as the ‘Computer Lady’!”
When Shults retires in June, Don Gifford, a network and systems technician with the Northeastern Regional Information Center, will take over day-to-day computer support duties for the district.