During his varsity wrestling days at Mesa Verde High School in the 1980s, Peter Skibitzki had a tendency to get nervous before his matches.
To calm himself, he would sit up in the bleachers before his matches and read his text books, prompting an opponent at one match to crack that he’d be wrestling “The Bookworm” that day.
This is what wrestlers — and anyone else — would call a bad move. Peter overheard the verbal put down and, later that day, he responded with a put down of his own: “Low and behold, within 10 seconds I’d thrown him down and pinned him.”
Today, Peter continues to succeed at grappling, but with a different challenge. As Senior Director for Technology Services at the San Juan Unified School District, he oversees and maintains all the technology initiatives for the school district, from financial to student information to networking to computer applications.
In that role, he is particularly proud of his position as a Board Member of the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC), and the partnership that San Juan Unified and SECC has forged for the benefit of the District’s students.
“The partnership is important because of what it’s brought to the District’s technology programs, especially with regard to the video [production] initiatives that the kids have participated in,” Peter says. “We had the most participants in the program this year, the most entries to the SEVA [Sacramento Educational Video Awards] contest.”
Peter was not always focused on a career in technology. After graduating from Mesa Verde High, he went on to study history and wrestle at Sierra College: “I had a teacher and wrestling coach at Mesa Verde — Merrill Silver — who was very instrumental in directing me toward channeling a lot of energy toward sports.
“It was one of those cases where he had that back to reality talk with me: ‘You’re not big enough to play college football and you might want to think about going to college and wrestling, too.’”
In 1987, Peter would win the California State Junior College wrestling championship in the 167-pound weight class. And he did well enough in the classroom at Sierra to transfer after two years to Sacramento State, where he would earn a degree in history.
It was while working as a campus monitor at Will Rogers Middle School in Fair Oaks that Peter befriended and volunteered to help a couple of teachers there that were involved in launching the school’s technology programs. One of those teachers was Kent Kern, who is now the San Juan superintendent.
“This was about the time that computers were coming into the District,” Peter recalls, “and we were doing a lot of things that others weren’t doing. We were pulling wires and laying cables and we built a CCTV [closed circuit television] system for the students to do morning announcements.”
Peter had planned on going into teaching history, but he says he “caught the technology bug” at Will Rogers, “So, I started taking classes in computers, computer repair and networking, and it took off from there.” Today, he is also a Board Member of the California Educational Technology Professionals Association, an organization dedicated to technologists working in K-12 education.
Looking toward the future, Peter says he sees the partnership between San Juan Unified and SECC expanding and introducing more students to technology and video production:
“We can expose kids to a broader spectrum of what is out there and what’s possible. A lot of these kids don’t really see limits when it comes to what they want to do with technology, as compared with older people who are locked into their mindsets, their inhibitions. Technology expands their horizons. Kids don’t seem to have those inhibitions. They’re not afraid to break things and figure out how to fix them.”
Want to contact Peter? Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org