The man who has led Laguna Beach Unified School District's technology department for the last eight years is leaving to take a job at a school in the United Arab Emirates.
Victor Guthrie, the district's chief technology officer, who has overseen installation of a wireless network at all four of the city's schools, will manage all technology aspects at American Community School of Abu Dhabi beginning Aug. 10, he said in a phone interview Monday.
His last day at Laguna Beach Unified will be Aug. 1, exactly eight years since he started at the district.
"When I started, we didn't have a technology department. We outsourced to a private vendor," Guthrie said.
Now, Laguna Beach is transitioning toward digital learning.
During the summer, crews will be updating wireless infrastructure at all four district schools to cope with the increased demand from students and teachers. Guthrie said he hopes the update will mean no more delays when trying to log on and no being kicked off the network.
Guthrie's duties at American Community, a private kindergarten-through-12th grade campus, will be similar to those at Laguna Beach Unified.
A recruiter alerted Guthrie to the position in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which wasn't originally on Guthrie's wish list of places to work.
Guthrie and his wife, Amber, visited Italy in late 2011 after Guthrie finished his doctorate degree. They fell in love with the country and Guthrie dreamed of working there.
"I contacted [a recruiter] in February  asking if he could find anything in Italy," Guthrie said. "Nothing came up. He sent another one [job opening at American Community School late last year] and I said, 'No.' He said, 'Look again. This is the one everyone wants to look at.'"
Guthrie read the job description, talked with a friend who was born in Abu Dhabi, interviewed for the position and flew there in late February to accept it.
Living in the United Arab Emirates will mean the Guthries, who don't have any children, can tap into their love of travel and be closer to places they want to visit, such as Africa.
Guthrie's contract calls for 198 work days with the summer off and three weeks of vacation in December, he said.
"We can go skiing in Switzerland and it's a five- or six-hour flight compared to an all-day flight [from California]," Guthrie said. "It's such a great opportunity professionally. I wanted to grab hold, learn and move forward."
Amber Guthrie will work at the school as an instructional aide.
Laguna Beach Unified Supt. Sherine Smith said Guthrie has left an indelible mark at the district.
"Victor has been outstanding," she said. "We will miss Victor. He has been integral to growing the technology program and the opportunities to extend learning. It's going to be a loss."
Laguna Beach Unified has 1,400 computers in use districtwide, including desktops and laptops in classrooms and lab rooms, Guthrie said.
"I didn't want technology to be an add-on," Guthrie said. "Students speak digital. All students are digital natives and technology is a part of learning."
Guthrie still has work to do before he leaves. He is working on policies that would govern what students can and cannot do on their own devices with the enhanced wireless access.
He gave formal notice to the district in late May.
"I wanted to make sure my leaving wouldn't impede what we are doing in the district," Guthrie said of his reason to delay announcing the job change. "Obviously with eight years of experience, there is certain institutional knowledge that rests with me. I will make myself available [to Guthrie's successor] when I'm in Abu Dhabi. We can do a 7 a.m. or 7 p.m. Skype call.
"This is my family. I want them to succeed."