After finishing his day at Dobbins Career and Technical Education High School, sophomore Tyreek Elam installs a Nintendo video game on a Dell PC while waiting for a different class to start.
He has always been proficient using computer software, and from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Elam and 12 other high school students from across Philadelphia learn about computers from a technical perspective.
“I have a passion for computers,” says Elam, 15, on why he spends an additional six hours a week in another classroom setting.
The program, Digital Connectors, now in its second year, helps prepare high school students for careers in information technology. It is operating in North Philadelphia and in 11 other cities, including Chicago, Denver, Miami, and Washington.
Digital Connectors is sponsored nationally by Comcast and in Philadelphia by the nonprofit groups Project HOME and People’s Emergency Center.
Philadelphia’s Digital Connectors program is taught by Christina Harrison, who also teaches art and technology at Ewing High School in New Jersey.
Interactive teaching has helped maintain the students’ interest. Lately, they have been learning the anatomy of the computer by taking the center’s old, broken-down computers apart and putting them back together.
“It’s amazing,” says Elam, who points out he had not had much experience working with computer hardware before Digital Connectors.