The ‘Tech Squad’: Campuses launch high-tech teams

HARLINGEN — Montrell Johnson and his colleague Karina drummed feverishly on their tablets, eyes focused in deep concentration.

Karina Cano and Montrell, both 15, were practicing scenarios in preparation for assisting teachers and staff with computer issues this spring as members of the “Student Tech Team.”

Those in need of assistance will submit work orders. Karina and Cano, sophomores at the Harlingen School for Health Professions, will then be dispatched to the individual requesting help.

“I’m really enjoying it,” Montrell said. “We get exposure to a variety of technology, computers, but also other things like tablets.”

The Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District Student Tech Teams — two other teams have been created at Gutierrez and Vernon middle schools — were launched earlier this month. Students are learning to apply classroom learning to situations regarding repair and customer service.

“The people from Best Buy, the Geek Squad, taught us about troubleshooting,” Karina said.

The district is emphasizing customer service as an integral part of the real-work experience. Students completed a customer service 101 program with Frank Castellanos, owner of the local Chick-fil-A. They also took the troubleshooting 101 curriculum.

This training will prepare them for the workforce as well as tending to the computer needs at the respective schools. The young tech members will assist with repair and maintenance as well as performing specific functions.

“We have been designing the module since last summer,” said Veronica Kortan, administrator of organizational development for the Harlingen school district.

“We just rolled it out,” Kortan said. “We are making sure that we’re going to use proven practices,” Kortan said. “Our students are learning different levels of the 4Cs and how they apply in customer services and how they prepare students for the workforce.”

The 4Cs, part of the school district’s Strategic Plan, emphasize Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking and Collaboration.

Tech team members will assist the library media specialists and campus technicians. Those individuals will teach them while helping to resolve issues with computers and digital devices. They will also help them learn communication and interpersonal skills. Castellanos from Chick-fil-a obviously made an impression on the students.

“It was very interesting to see Mr. Castellanos,” Montrell said. “He made us want to be there for our customers.”

This latest program ties in with the Harlingen school district’s digital learning initiative.