Not only do parents and grandparents turn to the younger generation to help them with problems with technology, but a local school district has decided to turn to its students, too.
This is the first school year that East Aurora is operating with a Student Tech Crew. The tech crew occupies a classroom at the high school during normal school hours, but operates like a repair station. These students are certified and trained to assist other students with Chromebook issues. There are currently six students operating as the tech crew, spanning the four grades at the high school. All six have either completed a certification process from the technology company Dell or are close to finishing it.
Some of the problems that they have seen this year with the Chromebooks are having items stuck in the USB ports or the headphone jacks, broken hinges, missing keys, web-cam issues and Wi-Fi connectivity issues. Members of the Student Tech Crew have replaced sensors under keyboards, reset computers when the screen is blank or troubleshot other operations that students have. They also loan out Chromebooks to other students to use if they need to turn theirs in for a longer period of time to get work done, and they sanitize them when they are returned.
These students are volunteering their free time to do this during study halls and lunch periods.
Shannon Federowicz is a workstation administrator in the East Aurora Union Free School District and she advocated for bringing this program to the district. Federowicz said it gives students who might not be involved in sports or other organized activities an outlet to give back to the school community and learn real-life skills, such as talking to the “customers” in person and through email to update them on the status of the computer. It also makes them more employable after high school because they are able to develop skills similar to a computer technician.
“With this certification and experience, they can get into an entry-level IT position,” she said.
Federowicz is one of three workstation administrators in the district. Each one works in one of the three school buildings for a two-week stretch before rotating to a different building. They all have the opportunity to work with the tech club as well as work with students at Parkdale and the middle school.
Federowicz began talking to students in June of 2022 at lunch about the program to gauge interest. She handed out 22 applications for them to apply to the program and ended up with six joining the team. She said that there were some students who were interested, but between sports and electives, they did not have the time to take on another commitment.
“Once the school year started, things changed a little, but we did develop a core group,” she said.
Sometimes the Chromebooks from the younger students are sent to the high school for the tech crew to work on. Federowicz said that having students work on the Chromebooks has freed up the time for her and her colleagues to work on other issues for teachers and school administrators when it comes to Wi-Fi issues and smart board repairs, among other things.
“Having the students work on the Chromebooks is a huge help to us and it saves the district money,” Federowicz said.
She hopes to be able to pass other skills on to these students in the future, like how to diagnose and repair smart boards as they gain more confidence.