Work Study Partnership Connects Technology and Learning

In classrooms across the city, IMS students are diligently working on their final projects as the school year comes to a close. This semester, however, IMS students aren’t the only individuals learning in these classrooms. Nine Mercy Vocational High School (Mercy Vocational) seniors are working as IT tech support in the IMS network, honing their skills before they graduate. The students’ duties range from acting as help-desk support for teachers to revitalizing older computers for a new life in classrooms or offices.

After a morning of classes and lunch, the high school students leave their Hunting Park campus to work in nine IMS schools across the city including St. Rose, St. Martin of Tours, St. Martin de Porres, Holy Cross, St. Frances Cabrini, St. Barnabas, The DePaul Catholic School, St. Veronica, and St. Malachy.

Mercy Vocational students choose from six programs of study including computer technology. When they graduate in June, the IT student techs will receive the CompTIA A+, an entry level certification for professionals looking to boost their IT careers. Their on the job training over the past few months in the IMS network has helped the students solidify concepts learned in the classroom and pick up new skills before moving on to a career or college, according to Catherine Glatts, Vice Principal for Technology and Career & Technical Education at Mercy Vocational.

In the field, the Mercy Vocational Techs are just a phone call away from their school support desk, from their school mentors, and from IMS Director of Technology Sue Small. This allows for brainstorming potential solutions according to Glatts.

“There is always collaboration in IT, and this shows them how it is done,” explains Glatts.

Two Mercy Vocational students working at St. Barnabas, Tim and Joe, say the extra help is invaluable as a large part of their jobs involves troubleshooting problems. “A lot of times, the simplest solution is the hardest to find,” explains Tim.

While on the job, the students receive regular performance reviews. “I like that they get feedback on what they can work on,” says Glatts. “These kids are learning, and the feedback helps them to learn.” It also provides a great opportunity for our students to see what their learning can lead to once they graduate from an IMS school.

Many of the Mercy Vocational Techs have been asked back for summer jobs as part of the team in IMS schools upgrading the technology infrastructure. It is all a part of the natural continuation of the learning experience, according to Glatts.

“We are really grateful for the relationship. It helps our students to get real-world experience while helping the IMS schools. We are looking forward to the relationship continuing.”