In an effort to narrow the gap between the amount of technology and the limited number of staff members qualified to service it, the Chester Career Center has begun hiring high school students as "interns" who earn credit and a stipend while helping the informational technology staff keep up with the demand.
The group of five young men has only been at work for three weeks, but already teacher
"In this time period, we've dissected computers, labeled their parts and set computers up for Promethean boards," Brock said.
The students also have been preparing 1,700 tablets for deployment to every one of the district's high school students by installing software, downloading updates and making sure all the devices are charged and working properly.
Students in the program, called SWAT -- Students Working to Advance Technology -- say they're having fun and already learning a lot.
'I want to do computer science'
"I used to want to study mechanical engineering but now I want to do computer science," Dixon said.
Dixon hopes that the
One of Superintendent
At the end of just one semester, SWAT members will be ready to take their A+ certification test -- required for most IT jobs, Brock said.
"The certification gives them a heads up," said
For their semester of work, each student receives a
'Value of professionalism'
Beyond the certification and skills, Brock said the biggest thing his students are learning is how to work in a professional environment.
"They're going to have an edge because they're going to know the value of professionalism," Brock said. "We're in (the classroom) to do a job."
"You've got to remember it's a professional environment," Jacobs said.
For the first semester, there's just one group of Level 1 SWAT members, made up of students from
The district has big plans to expand the program, Clinton said. Slayman said one day, she'd like to assign a high school intern to each school in the district.
For now, Brock said he's happy to be using talented high school students to supplement the district's technology needs while they gain valuable experience and education.
"Our technology needs in this district have tripled in the last two years," Brock said. "In the high schools, we've got these talented students, so why not give them work-based experience and utilize their skills?"
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