First Lady Gayle C. Manchin and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Paine receive a $225,000 grant from the Benedum Foundation.

CHARLESTON – First Lady Gayle C. Manchin and State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Paine officially received a $225,000 grant from the Benedum Foundation on Feb. 8 to expand project that trains students to troubleshoot and repair computers and networks in various schools across the state.

The Student Computer Technician Project was established seven years ago at Berkeley Springs High School in Morgan County under the leadership of Paine, who then was Morgan County Schools Superintendent.

The program educates students in computer repair and networking and creates a student-based repair facility, fulfilling a need in the school system for adequate technical support.

"Expanding the BSHS Student Computer Technician Project to other schools across our state is an excellent opportunity to enhance student's computer skills while also providing additional technical support to our schools," Manchin said. "This is a win-win for the entire state. With this Benedum grant, we provide the excelled, interactive training to the students and witness the direct results of that training in our schools.

"This type of program reinforces our commitment of the five promises by assuring that we are providing West Virginia students the 'marketable skill' that will enable talented students to remain in our great state."

Aries Technology online curriculum was adopted for the project, providing students both with the academic requirements of computer repair and an internship requirement with hands-on experience leading to a student-earned certification in the field. While a few schools in the state have the Aries curriculum, only Berkeley Springs High School started a student computer repair facility.

During the past four years, the BSHS Student Computer Technician Project has certified more than 70 students in computer repair, networking and server management.

Nancy Sturm, Education Technology Advisor for the Governor, applied for this Benedum grant to increase the program across the state.

"We have such talented teachers across the state doing excellent technology initiatives that need to be recognized and duplicated. This program aligns significantly with the 21st Century Skills being endorsed by the Department of Education and the Governor's office."

The Benedum Foundation grant will provide the following resources for 10 schools during the next two years:

  • Online curriculum for 10 students to take two semesters of the Aries online curriculum, which includes books.

  • Required Aries teacher training prior to the courses beginning.

  • Teacher travel to attend training sessions and meetings.

  • Cost of toolkits, supplies and other resources to get the program operational.

  • New components for five computer system units for the students to use during classroom lab exercises.

  • A supplement to pay for the teacher to teach one block each semester for two years.

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