'Tech Team' to teach South Portland students computer repair skills

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SOUTH PORTLAND — High school students next year will have the option to take a career-oriented course in computer repair while servicing the schools and the wider community.

Students enrolled in the semester-long course, “Tech Team,” will learn to troubleshoot and repair common personal computer hardware and software issues, and they’ll work with faculty to maintain the district’s computers.

The course plan also calls for students to work on computers brought in by residents.

“We’ve talked a lot about (science, technology, engineering and math), especially at the middle-school level,” Assistant Superintendent Kathy Germani said in a School Board meeting on Monday. “This is an area where we’re looking at STEM-related courses to be folded into the high school level as well.”

South Portland students can already enroll in career-oriented courses at Portland Arts and Technology High School, Germani said. But that’s a big commitment, which takes the students out of SPHS.

Tech Team, she said, would allow more students to learn job skills without leaving the school.

The course will be open to all high school grade levels. Aside from basic technical training, students will learn customer service skills, Internet security and safety, basic website production and other computer-related tasks.

They’ll also design video and print tutorials and help other classes with basic technological needs. Ideally, students will have learned enough basic computer repair know-how to put them on solid ground to learn more advanced skills.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for students to learn skills that may help them as an individual, but may also point them to careers that might be out there,” said School Board member Richard Carter.

The one question that stuck out for Carter, though, is whether the district could be held liable for problems with residents’ computers that might be caused by students learning as they go. 

“The students would be supervised, and they’d be working in the classroom, in a learning environment,” high school Principal Jim Holland said. “People who brought in their computers would know that it was students working on them.”

The SPHS career preparation teacher, Julie York, will teach the class. She said to make room for the new course, the school would eliminate its Video Production II course. 

The School Board unanimously approved the addition of Tech Team to the high school’s course of studies for next year. It is expected to cost about $500 to get the course up and running.

“I think you’re going to have a lot of people sign up for this class,” School Board member Sarah Goldberg said.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or mmoretto@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.