Skip To Main Content

Bucs Hero: Ryan Bender, Information Systems Associate, AKA the “Fish Guy”

The students and teachers on Bissell Campus are fortunate to have Ryan Bender as their dedicated Information Systems Associate. Quiet and unassuming, Ryan probably doesn’t love the idea that we are profiling him. But this Army veteran who has worked at Country Day for 10 years, is a Bucs Hero for numerous reasons. This regular feature is designed to highlight the many staff members across campus making an impact on our school. Get to know a little more about Ryan Bender.

Describe your role as Middle School Information Systems Associate. How do you support the faculty and students?

The short answer is whatever I have the capability to do, I do. When it comes to students, it’s mostly about the iPads. There are over 500 student-issued iPads in the Middle School, and at last count, 188 applications are available for them to download from our internal app store (though, 20 or so are used frequently). Students bring their iPads to me for a myriad of reasons. Most of the time the fix is simple, but on occasion something I have never seen before pops up that I must research. When it comes to the teachers, I pretty much handle all things related to tech that I can do. Teachers have laptops, iPads, interactive TVs, projectors, Smartboards, document cameras, desk phones, and various peripheral devices that are needed to work for them to do their jobs. Every classroom has its own wireless access point and network ports as well as audio and video ports and such. I think I’ve just scratched the surface with this answer! There are quite a few things I don’t really handle though, so I also pass those along to others in the IT department. 

What do you like most about your job?

I just enjoy being here. I’ve worked in IT in the corporate world, and it’s just a completely different atmosphere. Everyone I work with, whether it be at Bissell or at Cannon, is great. I’ve said this before, and I mean it…I don’t dislike a single person at Country Day. The “free lunches” while school is in session are pretty sweet too. Making my own lunches during the summer gets old after a couple of weeks!

In what ways do you help build community?

Most everybody at Bissell Campus knows me as the “fish guy.” I have three tanks in my office and students drop in to look at the tanks. Last year, I also started writing articles for the “Middle School Mentions” newsletter on proper fish care. All of my tanks have real rocks, wood, and live plants in them, too. How I got to this point with these fish is a funny story.

Ryan Bender feeding fish in a tank in his room.

I have a pretty big office in the Dowd Science Building. Some years back, a group of students started congregating in the space before school. They seemed to mostly like the space for doing TikTok dances and I really didn’t mind sharing my room. After a few months of these morning gatherings, they gifted me with a betta in a little one-gallon, acrylic cube. They named him Defender Bender. Of course, I wanted to give DB the best life I could, so I did a lot of research on proper care. The first thing I learned is that they need more room, so I went out and bought a 3-gallon tank for him. A few months later I noticed Pet Supplies Plus had a $1 per gallon sale, so I jumped at buying a 20-gallon long aquarium. That way I could add a few more fish so he wouldn’t be lonely. Before that I had put an iPad with looping videos of various aquatic scenes behind the back glass, so he’d have something to look at. He actually did interact with it sometimes. I then bought a 10-gallon tank which was replaced with a 40-gallon tank. The 10-gallon is still in use in the office—It’s my “nursery” tank since I breed some of the fish. I’m by no means a master fish breeder, but I have been able to breed 10 different species up to now.

How do you like to spend your free time?

In my free time I like to stay active by spending time outdoors and hiking during the warmer months.  

Aquariums take up a bit of my time too. At home I have six fish tanks, and I’m working on fixing up a freebie I collected. The smallest tank is 10 gallons, and my largest tank is 150 gallons.

I find spending time outdoors in nature to be very therapeutic too. Combine that with my love of fish, and soon I hope to visit creeks and streams to see what wildlife we have around.