3 apprentices aid in IT at Cassville High School

A new program at Cassville High School this semester is putting students to work.

Errick Fuchs, Cassville director of technology, has hired three Cassville seniors — Andrew Gray, Kayden Fuchs and Bentley Barber — to work alongside his department in completing repair tickets for devices across the district.

Along with the seniors learning valuable tech skills and working toward a possible certification, the program also takes the weight of those tickets off Fuchs, allowing him to focus his energy on larger scale projects.

The U.S. Department of Labor Computer Support Specialist Apprenticeship at Cassville began with a nudge from Cassville Superintendent Merlyn Johnson, whose former district St. James had a similar program.

“He was excited to get this here, and we implemented it this semester and will see how it goes,” Fuchs said. “It’s a for-credit class, similar to flex here at Cassville. They get credit, plus they get paid. They are basically employees of the district.”

Notice was sent to juniors and seniors of the program’s intent, and each student interested had to apply for the position as if it were a realworld job.

“They had to send resumes with cover letters and do interviews like a regular job,” Fuchs said.

Barber said he’s known his whole life he wanted to enter the tech industry.

“This is a really good starting place because it gives me a head start on my career gaining work experience and skills applicable to a job in computer science, as opposed to graduating high school with no foundation of skill,” he said.

“It’s nice to be able to have this experience, and I know we’ll enjoy it. It’s an opportunity to have real experience working with real problems,” added Kayden Fuchs, who said he also aspires to find a career in tech.

Gray, however, said tech was not his first career choice coming through school — but it is now.

“I planned to go into engineering, and I took a computer science class just because I could,” he said. “I got more into computer science, and it got more into me.”

Errick Fuchs said the majority of the group’s work is Chromebook repairs, and anything general help desk related.

“If they log 2,000 hours like this, they can earn a Support Specialist I certification through the Department of Labor,” Fuchs said. “That is the entry level certification to any computer support job. They can also continue to work through the summer and stay after graduation, too, to get those hours.”

Kayden Fuchs and Barber have worked on devices in the past when something was broken or needed replaced. They have also replaced numerous smart boards with Promethean boards.

“Computers are a mix of hardware and software, and they go handin- hand,” Barber said. “You can’t have one without the other, and knowledge of both is essential.”

The majority of the work is hardware repairs of Chromebooks for things like charging errors, broken screens, broken frames or bad batteries.

“We have to use all the old parts from old Chromebooks that were broken and piece them together,” Gray said. “We learn a lot because of that.”

“I enjoy more of the software side, honing in on a problem and solving it in a vacuum,” Fuchs said.

While each of the trio has individual skills, working as a team is one of their goals.

“It’s nice to have three of us because if one of us can’t figure it out, we always can solve it together,” Fuchs said.

That method proved itself one day at the middle school.

“We had a whole class where a few individual Chromebooks did not work, so we reset them all and that fixed the issue,” Barber said.

Errick Fuchs said having the students has been a help, and others enjoy it, as well.

“Teachers enjoy seeing them come help, and for me personally, it’s been helpful for them to do those minor things because it frees me up for bigger jobs.”

The program will have two openings next fall, and all three seniors said anyone with even the slightest interest should take a shot.

“Apply, even if you don’t know if you will get it,” Gray said. “It will help with basic tech knowledge, which is useful even if you don’t choose that as a career.”

“A lot of people are scared because they think they don’t know how to do stuff, but all you really need to be able to do this is a good grasp of problem-solving and you will learn,” Kayden Fuchs said. “Try it if you enjoy problem-solving.”

Barber said all it takes is a willingness.

“One of the most interesting things to me was in the interview, they told me, ‘You realize it’s not about knowing everything; it’s OK to not know,’” he said. “Everyone has the capacity to learn, but are they willing?”

“A lot of people are scared because they think they don’t know how to do stuff, but all you really need to be able to do this is a good grasp of problem-solving and you will learn.”

KAYDEN FUCHS

U.S. Dept. of Labor Computer Support Specialist Apprenticeship

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