January 23, 2019
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Dr. Dale Hudson ultimately has one goal for every student enrolled in his classes.
He wants his “students to be successful in life.”
With the help of Erin Alvarado, an instructional technology coach at LaVergne High School, multiple success stories are unfolding in Hudson’s classroom this semester.
Two juniors — Noah Currey and William Walker—became the first two students in Rutherford County to earn a pair of official Dell Enterprise Certifications, and other students, including Triston Dobbs and Ian Miranda-Cintron, began an in-school internship program assisting the Hardware and Systems Support staff from the Rutherford County Schools’ Central Office.
“It’s a great opportunity for our students,” said Hudson, who has noticed an increase in confidence among his students.
LaVergne High is “on the leading edge of” developing the internship program for student techs, Alvarado said.
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The idea for these opportunities was born during a Dell training seminar Alvarado attended in Nashville.
Michael Todd, a Dell liaison for Rutherford County Schools, told attendees there would be an opportunity for their students to become Dell-certified.
“As a county we’re using all Dell machines,” Alvarado said. “When I first heard him mention that just briefly in conversation, I thought, I want to jump on this and see how we can get our students working on these certifications.”
Alvarado talked to Hudson the next day.
Then she reached out to Todd, who put her in touch with the head of the program.
“What a golden opportunity for our kids,” Hudson said.
Each of the two certifications are earned on the students’ own time. They download a PowerPoint lesson and work through all the material at their own pace. Each certification takes between eight and nine hours to complete, Currey and Walker said.
They earned both certifications within a week of being told of the opportunity.
“I like to shine above everybody and me doing this feels special,” said Currey, who is the first student in the county to earn both Dell Enterprise Certifications. “It gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
Walked added, “This is a great opportunity, especially at a young age.”
Hudson saw something more.
“They’re at home actively pursuing these,” Hudson said. “The two came in this morning and they completed their certifications over the weekend. That tells me they’re engaged, and as a teacher, if I can get my students engaged in the process, they are going to … have a better understanding of what we’re doing.”
Hudson has applied to the Tennessee Board of Education to have the Dell certifications included as one of the options for students to earn distinction at graduation.
LaVergne High is the only school in the county with students currently certified. Others are expected to follow.
The skills the students have acquired “has been an immense help in keeping up with work orders” at LaVergne High School, said Steve Solomon, IT coordinator for Rutherford County Schools.
The key has been communication between his office and the school, Solomon said.
There are 47 schools in the district, and in August, RCS will open two more new schools.
As the district rolls out the program of having one laptop for every two students, tech issues with become a never-ending workload for Solomon and his team of professional technicians. His office provides a tech at each of the high schools two days a week. But the interns allow work orders at LaVergne High to be processed and handled all five days each week.
“The pride our students take in the work they do,” Hudson said, “it gives them a chance to showcase their skills.”
In addition to troubleshooting Dell computers, students have developed leadership and soft skills, gained a greater sense of teamwork and accountability, and troubleshooting tech issues.
As an intern, they need strong interpersonal skills known as soft skills.
They are out in the school, introducing themselves to the teacher or staff member who submitted the work order before any troubleshooting begins.
“They’re a professional in the work environment instead of just the student,” said Alvarado, adding, “It gives kids ownership in the school.”
Hudson agreed: “The benefits for our students are immeasurable.”
PHOTO / KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT