Categorized | Bronx Beats, Bronx Blog, Education

Turning up the tech at a Kingsbridge school

William Tsang, MOUSE Squad Coordinator at In-Tech Academy, works with students. Photo: courtesy Susan Schwartz.

William Tsang, MOUSE Squad Coordinator at In-Tech Academy, works with students. Photo: courtesy Susan Schwartz.

At In-Tech Academy in Kingsbridge, the school IT staff is hard at work most weekday afternoons, managing tech support requests like setting up networks, connecting computers to the Internet, and computer troubleshooting.  Staff members like Nick and Jonathan also standby to help teachers with laptop carts, SMART Boards, and videoconferencing.

Nothing too out of the ordinary here, except that Nick’s in the 7th grade, and Jonathan’s in the 11th.

These In-Tech students are part of their school’s MOUSE Squad, a program that trains and supports students in managing leading-edge technical support help desks in their schools, improving the ability to use technology to enhance learning, while also providing a hands-on learning experience for students.

“I have a big interest in technology,” said Nick, now in his second year on the squad.  “It makes me feel important because people rely on my expertise.”

“When I am fixing computers, I feel good,” Jonathan added.  “It’s like the feeling you get when you make a shot in basketball.”

MOUSE is a youth development organization that provides the funds to help underserved students to provide tech support and leadership in their schools.  Since 1997, New York City-based MOUSE has grown to serve 260 schools across four states.  The organization has shown solid results across key indicators of student success, like academic performance and attendance, and helps save schools an average of $19,000 a year on technology support costs.

In-Tech Academy was one of the first schools to get a MOUSE Squad, in 2001.  Today, it is one of 100 New York City schools that will benefit from a landmark $1.1 million grant awarded to the program as part of the NYC Connected Learning Initiative, from the U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.

NYC Connected Learning aims to increase the use of broadband technology and enhance educational outcomes for public school students in communities across the city with the highest need.  As part of this program, more than 18,000 middle school students and their families are receiving desktop computers, educational software, training and broadband access at home.

The school’s principal, Yvette Allen listed the many benefits she sees from the federal technology grant.  “NYCL fulfills our vision for providing computers in the classroom,” she said, along with “technology at home, teachers integrating technology in the curriculum with parents involved in the use of technology and student learning.”

It’s this comprehensive approach to technology education – teaching through hands on experience and school and reinforcing lessons learned via access at home – that Allen and her colleagues hope will propel In-Tech’s students to digitally-savvy, successful futures.

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