There's a team at SDCOE that works late into the night and early into the morning to make sure information is safe, computer servers are running properly, and people throughout the county are getting paid.
They're not superheroes; it's the four-person Computer Operations team.
Led by John Vaillancourt, the team includes Sandra Filippone, Paola Ramos, and Willie Williams.
They're here at nearly all hours, even after the custodians have gone home around midnight. Vaillancourt and Williams work days, Filippone works from 2:30 to 11 p.m. and Ramos works from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
In those hours, they do a variety of work, including printing paychecks, updating and maintaining nearly 300 different servers, supervising data backup, and maintaining our Student Information System. They process payroll for about 50,000 employees across the county and sometimes print as many as 9,000 paychecks in a night.
"If we weren't here keeping the servers updated and making sure the systems were running properly, then the districts wouldn't have what they need to educate kids," Filippone said.
Working those hours can be a mixed blessing, they said. Although it can affect your social life and sleep, the solitude can also be relaxing and the lack of distractions can help you stay focused and get a lot done.
"One thing I do appreciate the most is the peacefulness of being able to work uninterrupted," Ramos said. "The buzz of the machines can become Zen-like when I'm all alone."
Williams has also worked the early morning shift. He said he enjoyed being able to run errands during the day when most people are at work.
All three of the computer operators started as student interns and have been here more than 15 years.
Williams recognized the importance of burgeoning online resources while he was serving in the Navy and pursued a career in computers once he retired.
"I thought, this is the future; this is going to change a lot of things," he said about the Internet.
Ramos started working as a computer operator at SDCOE while she was attending UC San Diego getting degrees in philosophy and psychology.
Filippone got into computers as a student because she was interested in special effects and post-production for TV and movies. She found out about the job from her mother, who also worked at SDCOE.
Although much of their work is behind the scenes, it's rewarding to be able to do such important work and to work with so many different units at SDCOE, they said.
"The data of the organization is very important to everyone, and we take our jobs very seriously," Vaillancourt said.