Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series highlighting a few of the many ways county employees and agencies provide valuable learning opportunities to our Fairfax County Public Schools’ students. This hands-on experience supplements the tremendous work our teachers provide in their classrooms. Good luck to our students and teachers as they begin the 2017-2018 school year on Aug. 28!
Computers being replaced in our county offices will have new lives in the homes of students thanks to an innovative new partnership between the Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools, our Office of Public Private Partnerships and Department of Information Technology (DIT), as well as the Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment Program (VA STAR).
Starting this fall, the county will donate used computers to VA STAR, students in the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) after-school technology clubs will refurbish them, and then the computers will be donated to FCPS students in need.
VA STAR is a statewide workforce development program operating in 73 schools in 44 counties that teaches students to refurbish computer equipment while earning digital badges and IT certifications. The after-school program, currently supported at seven of our middle and high schools, teaches students how to install new hard drives and RAM, replace missing and broken parts, and install operating systems and security software.
Once the computers are in working order, the VA STAR club members hold an event called a Bridging the Gap to donate them to families of students who do not have access to a computer in their home. The club members get to meet the beneficiaries of their efforts and demonstrate the proper set up and usage of the refurbished computers. VA STAR Club members gain valuable hands-on technology experience while giving back to the community.
The Foundation for FCPS is the coordinator for the program in Fairfax County.
Our Department of Information Technology has already taken advantage of the partnership and hired two FCPS students with VA STAR experience as interns for eight weeks this summer. Both are students at Hayfield Secondary School and spent the summer setting up new laptops and desktops for county employees.
“My time with DIT proved to be a very influential and exciting journey. The staff were a great source of information as they taught us how to image county machines or the basics of desktops and other technology,” said intern Mihnea “Alex” Buzatu. “It provided me with additional skills that I most definitely will need in my future career in IT.”