PITTSFIELD -- As things like high school equivalency exams and state data tracking moved online, Heather Williamson became nervous.
The Helen Berube Teen Parent Program at 88 South St., where she serves as executive director, had spotty Internet service and worn, aging equipment.
"Their lab looked like a computer museum. Things just weren't functional," said Dave Hall, president of Compu-
Works in Pittsfield.
He's also president of the Rotary Foundation of Pitts-
field, an organization Will-
iamson turned to for fiscal help in addressing the Teen Parent Program's technology woes.
Hall said members of the Rotary Foundation fully pled-
ged their support and a grant of $7,000 for new equipment, repairs and tech support.
"The group felt that a single parent, or any parents without a high school degree are very likely to grow up in poverty," said Hall. He said the foundation was happy to help an agency that's helping young people to complete their high school or equivalent level of education.
"We've kind of adopted them," said Hall, noting that one of his CompuWorks staff members, Dana Johnson, donated his time to help with the new setup.
The technology upgrade which took place this semester included the installation of wireless infrastructure, six desktop classroom computers with software, a wireless printer, networking, some repairs and technical services.
"I am thrilled that the Rotary Foundation believes in the work we do," said Williamson. "Today's technology can provide teachers and students with opportunities for teaching and learning that were impossible in the past."
The Helen Berube Teen Parent Program is a nonprofit educational center for pregnant and parenting teen mothers and their children. Students can choose to enroll in academic pathways that help them finish their high school diploma, prepare for the new HiSET diploma equivalency exam, or prepare for college.
The Teen Parent Program which served 21 students this year, will have eight seniors graduate on June 6. Two students are currently enrolled in the HiSET program.
Williamson said that be-
fore the upgrades, students
couldn't access the Internet in
This spring, thanks to the new technology, Tina Schettini, a senior admissions counselor for Berkshire Community College was able to help Teen Parent Program students on-site to file their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms online. Williamson said one student was recently able to complete the online registration form to take the HiSET, which also offers online tutorials and information.
The Teen Parent Program leader said that students will also be able to use the center's new Internet connections to work on research and papers, gain skills using various Micr-
osoft applications and look online for college and career opportunities.
"Now technology is just part of education," said Williamson. "It's also so imperative to make sure we're computer savvy on an administrative level, to make sure we're collecting data and doing proper documentation of our work."
She also said, "As a motivational tool, technology positively impacts student attitudes toward learning, self-confidence, and self-esteem."