11/28/10 — Microsoft and DPI providing technical know-how classes

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Microsoft and DPI providing technical know-how classes

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 28, 2010 1:50 AM

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Jennifer Tyndall, instructor for the Microsoft IT Academy at Spring Creek High School, hosted a pilot program this semester. The program goes statewide effective January. Many students at Spring Creek have since become certified in Microsoft Word and are now learning Publishing. Tyndall works with student Lauren Hales designing a prospective card for LaGrange Medical Center.

While attending a conference in July, Erlene Brogden learned about a proposed pilot program that will ultimately provide technology training at every public high school in the state.

She immediately recommended Spring Creek High School as a candidate.

"The state did give us an opportunity to do this, and (37 high schools in) 29 counties were chosen to do the pilot this past semester," said Mrs. Brogden, the district's career technical education lead teacher.

The classes replaced Computer Applications I, with students offered training and certification in Microsoft Word.

Three classes have been taught this semester by Jennifer Tyndall, a business teacher at the school for the past five years.

"She has exceeded the state with the number of certifications," Mrs. Brogden said. "She did her certificate testing and certified 25 students, 50 percent of her total 52 students. Then she did a retest and now she's at a 79 percent pass rate that have their 2010 Microsoft Word Office certificates."

The state Department of Public Instruction and Microsoft Corp. recently announced that North Carolina will become the first state in the country to offer the academy program to all public high schools. Under the agreement, teachers will also receive training and professional development support and resources.

"We call it a field test, it'll be offered from January to June," Mrs. Brogden said. "That means that the state is still looking at it and looking at the data and how students perform."

In the spring semester, Spring Creek's program will be expanded to include Microsoft Publisher and PowerPoint, while the academy will be added at the five other county high schools. Wayne School of Engineering and Wayne Early/Middle College High School do not presently have career technical programs, so are exempt.

As a former business teacher who also worked in industry before moving into education, Mrs. Brogden said she realizes how valuable the training will be for students.

"I know in college they're going to use it. It's highly recognized by businesses," she said.

Ms. Tyndall, a 2002 Wayne County Teaching Fellow who returned to the district to teach after college, said it has been a "wonderful experience" to offer the advanced technology classes at Spring Creek.

"The parents have been on board allowing these children to be prepared with 21st Century learning skills," she said. "It's given kids a certification that will follow them for years. I feel very honored that Mrs. Brogden selected me."

Lauren Hales, a senior at the school, said she was actually nervous when she first enrolled in the class.

"I was lost," she says now. "All I knew how to do was sign onto my Facebook (page) and that was it. I came in here and started doing good and I was a slow typer at first. I'm not the fastest still, but I'm better. I like working on the computer now. Now I'm asking for a laptop for Christmas."

Ms. Hales, who plans to become a radiologist technician after high school, said the Microsoft certification will come in handy.

"Now they have computers for everything so I feel more comfortable," she said.

Senior Miranda Hill was one of the first students to become certified in the program. She said it has given her a broader knowledge of what Microsoft has to offer.

"Before this, I knew basically how to type a report and print it, maybe add some bold italics," she said. "It was definitely an eye-opening experience, being able to say, 'Hey, I know what I'm doing.' When I first signed up for this, I had no idea it was as big as it was, but I'm very, very glad I signed up for this class."

The course also received a high endorsement from Gerald Ulmer, a senior who plays basketball, but plans to study business in college.

The first time around, though, he failed the certification test.

"I kept a positive attitude," he said, noting that he passed it the second time. "It's been really fun. It's opened my eyes to a lot of things, because a lot of kids don't have this opportunity.

"I think I want to make my outlook different besides playing sports. This program is like the best for us, kids should take it. It will help you with college and getting jobs. This is something I can build on and use for my life so I stayed with it."