PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Students at West Philadelphia High School's computer networking program are putting their newly learned skills to practical use.
If a student's Chromebook stops working anywhere in the district, chances are good it'll wind up at West Philly High. That's where they're repaired by students, says career and technical education teacher Marie Wilkins-Walker.
"We work with technicians out of South Philly High School,” Wilkins-Walker said. “They come in two days a week. They train the students.”
She indicated a set of boxes containing Chromebooks that students have repaired. “And then they get shipped back to the district and redistributed to the students," she said.
Wilkins-Walker oversees the computer networking program at West Philly High. She says, during the school year, students earn college credits and computer industry certifications. In the summertime, 17 students earned cash fixing Chromebooks for the district.
If a class at West Philly High needs a computer network set up, they don't necessarily call district IT. They go to the students in Wilkins-Walker's tech class.
"Some classrooms have three or four computers in a class. They will network the computers for the class. They'll set up printers. Just about any kind of tech job that we get, the students do," she said.
Wilkins-Walker says, for Computer Science Week in December, her students will wheel computers into non-tech classrooms and become instructors.
"We take some technology on carts and they go into the classrooms, and all of the other students who are not in CTE programs have an opportunity to do some computer science work," she said. "They actually go in and teach during Computer Science Week. I'm just the facilitator. They do all the work."
"These kids grew up digital," Wilkins-Walker said. "They come in with a skill set. So when they put the words with the activities, they just blossom."
West Philadelphia High School is home to one of the school district's three computer networking programs. The others are at Murrell Dobbins Vocational High School in North Philadelphia and Swenson Arts and Technology High School in Northeast Philadelphia.
The district invited reporters to West Philadelphia High School last week Monday as part of an event for American Education Week.