Student tech aides “Speak Up” on the Hill

FCPS Assistant Superintendent for Information Technology Maribeth Luftglass, left, and School-Based Technology Specialist Margaret Sisler pose with Ngo and Heileman at the briefing.

Alessandra Tazoe, staff writer

The FCPSOn initiative provides laptops to students throughout the Chantilly pyramid, changing the way students and faculty learn and teach. This program would not be possible without the student technology aides, who work during fifth and sixth periods, to assist others throughout the building with technology issues. The tech aide class is hands-on and provides many learning experiences in and out of the classroom, including the recent opportunity for aides to attend one of the several Speak Up briefings by Project Tomorrow in Washington, D.C. last month.

The non-profit organization Project Tomorrow seeks to improve the education of students nationwide through the use of technology, science and math. This organization has many programs for students and teachers, one of them being Speak Up, which focuses on how communities feel about digital education.

“It was a congressional briefing held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building,” School-Based Technology Specialist Margaret Sisler said. “There was a lady presenting the research findings and the youth survey, [which is] available to teachers, parents and students.”

The panelists presented their ideas to educational leaders and government officials on Capitol Hill. The entire event was broadcasted worldwide for those who could not attend.

Tech aides senior Angelique Ngo and junior Jade Heileman were among six student tech aides from Virginia selected to participate in the briefing.

“We talked about how technology and learning [are] intertwined with each other and how technology has shaped the new evolution of learning,” Ngo said.

The tech aide class is similar to an internship with Sisler and Technology Support Specialist Jason Franks, as it provides real-world job experience. The Speak Up event encouraged students to be leaders among their peers while representing FCPSOn and Chantilly High School in front of world leaders.

[The briefing] impacted me because we often think that teenagers don’t really have a say, but they actually do,” Ngo said. “We are the ones shaping the future, so the fact that I was able to broadcast my views on how technology is actually enhancing our learning experience was really big on my part.”

The tech aides have had a busy start to the school year with both the Speak Up event and handing out all the student laptops over the summer.

“Supporting and distributing 2800 computers and helping teachers and students figure it out [is] a huge undertaking,” Sisler said. “These students have a piece of this role [of being a technology specialist], and that’s exciting.”

The tech aide students are essential to the smooth running of the school. Their many responsibilities include assisting students and teachers with hardware and software problems, writing guides for common errors and creating student help videos.

“I think that tech aides really help us make the school environment better [by helping] us understand how to use our computers better and all the resources that we have now,” sophomore Eva Williams said. “They’ve definitely been beneficial to not only students, but also teachers by helping with classes and new learning techniques.”