The members of the e-Team, and advisors J.R. Renna, left, and Joe Vecchio, right
LIMERICK PA – Twelve area high school students who are considered to be wizards of modern technology have been given the unenviable task of helping the rest of us figure out what to do after we turn on a computer, a smartphone, a tablet, or almost any other device intended to make our lives easier.
Sadly, some of us have yet to even learn where the “on” button is. For that and more, according to J.R. Renna of the Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center, 77 Graterford Rd., it’s “the e-Team” to the rescue.
The e-Team consists of members of Pottsgrove, Spring-Ford and Upper Perkiomen high schools. All are considered by Renna, the center’s director of technology, and Joe Vecchio, its computer information systems instructor, to be “among the best” in knowing their way around computers, electronic devices, software, applications, and equipment installations.
Making up the e-Team are
- Kieran Read, Tristan Herfurth, Connor Hughes, and Glenn Brickel of Pottsgrove;
- Jaiden Hamman, Colin Watson, Austin Taylor and Anthony Delbuono of Spring-Ford; and
- Dakota Jamison, Cody Gaugler, Tony Trego and Jordon Granneman of Upper Perk.
All rank as second- or third-level students in Vecchio’s fast-paced and detailed classes. “They’re already enthusiastic, adept at technology, and they want to do more,” Renna says of these teens. That makes them a perfect fit to assist local residents aching to know how to schedule an event on their calendars, have a Skype chat with their grandchildren, or upgrade software.
While they’re teaching others, he adds, the students also gain experience and confidence in skills employers demand: presentation abilities, customer-oriented service, and persistence. “It’s a great opportunity” for them, Renna notes, but one that didn’t exist until relatively recently.
Renna previously worked in the East Stroudsburg Area School District in the Pocono Mountains community of East Stroudsburg PA, about 72 miles northeast of Limerick. It has its own community technology outreach program, one he said he admired for its ability to provide student help to both groups and individuals. As he began the local e-Team with Vecchio, East Stroudsburg readily made its resources available, Renna said.
The e-Team began as a small experiment, he explains; a student-run “help desk” intended to give fellow classmates a hand when their devices spat out error messages, and to assist teachers who submitted work requests. It’s grown from those beginnings to having students participate in computer network installations and server maintenance internally, and conduct specialty classes for the larger community.
Can you use some of their free help? The e-Team’s got you covered, according to Renna.
- It’s scheduled to hold a March 30 (2016; Wednesday) lunch-time training session at 11:30 a.m. on Facebook basics and new features in Windows 10.
- Then on April 4 (Monday), during the center’s 6 p.m. community night dinner buffet, the e-Team will offer a presentation on a smartphone buyers guide, and the basics of Google Drive. Register for either event here, and learn more about what its members will cover, here.
Showing off their technology chops is part of the fun for e-Team members, Renna agrees, but the students themselves say there’s more to their efforts than that.
Pottsgrove student Connor Hughes says he’s benefited by being “more confident, and better at speaking to groups of people.”
Spring-Ford’s Jaiden Hamman is pleased he’s had a chance to allay some users’ worries about technology. They’re bothered by “having to ask for help when they are unsure … because no one like that,” he observes, and the open approach of the e-Team seems to put them more at ease.
Dakota Jamison of Upper Perkiomen believes the chance to make technology more easily grasped, “to simplify the technology world … into terms that can be understood by the audience” holds high value for him. It’s also a skill that translates well to Jamison’s other personal interests: he’s a snowboard instructor at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Macungie PA, and a junior firefighter in the Green Lane Fire Company.
Those kinds of reactions are exactly what Renna and Vecchio say they hope for as the e-Team develops.
Photos from the Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center