Building a connection
By Paige Grzenia
ALGOMA – On Oct. 25, The Algoma Public Library started a program called “Teen Teaching Technology” where students from Algoma High School volunteer to help anyone who needs help with their technology.
“It is open to anybody who might come. It seems like it has been appealing more to the senior age, those that have retired and are having technology issues that maybe they don’t have family close by that can help them figure it out,” said Braelyn Dempsey, the young adult librarian at the Algoma Public Library.
“Helping out and getting to interact with different community members, it’s very exhilarating to be part of this community that we have in Algoma that we can be able to have the resources to help out other elderly people and anyone in general. This isn’t just for seniors. This is for anyone that needs help with like technology,” said senior Jonathan Daul.
“We started by having the first session be just about smartphones. Two students were there to talk to anyone who had an Android device and then two students were there to talk about Apple devices. And it’s pretty much an open forum. Anytime a patron comes in and has questions, the students do the best of their ability to answer it or find a solution. And it’s not a guarantee that they’ll find a solution, but half of the journey is just seeing what questions come up and how they handle trying to answer them to the best of their ability, which often happens in real life,” added Dempsey.
“I volunteered because I had an Android, and we needed another person who had an Android phone, so that’s why I volunteered. And also to get to know other elderly people that are in our community,” said senior Sophia Daul.
The high school students have even helped citizens navigate certain apps on their devices that they were having difficulties using, as junior Ethan Moore shares when asked about a time when he helped someone that was meaningful to him.
“One of them was trying to sell a cookie jar and I sell stuff on Facebook Marketplace all the time…she’s like, I need help selling something on Marketplace. I’m like, oh, well, I can absolutely show you every curricular step of it. And it worked out perfectly fine at the end,” said Moore.
When asked what his favorite part of helping out with the Teen Teaching Technology program is, junior Hunter O’Hern said, “I like it because, it feels good to know that you put a smile on someone’s face after you help them. I cherish helping people and being able to help someone.”
Family and Consumer Science teacher at Algoma High School, Erin Ballone, who also helps with this program, shared, “Something that I love because for being a teacher here, I’m the family and consumer science teacher and just building that connection between students and community. Like, that is something like, with a lot of my classes that I love to do is building that connection, so we’re not separate. You know, we work together, and, you know, it’s just, I love seeing my students and community work together.”
Dempsey said that she would like to see other libraries collaborate more with schools.
“I know that libraries all over the country are doing what they can with the means that they have, but I love the idea of public sector jobs being able to collaborate with students in their classroom in real time and have a meeting of the minds that not only benefit the community that the students and our libraries are in, but also that benefit the students as a whole be richer human beings in the long run,” she said.
There will be two more sessions on Dec. 6 and Dec. 15, 9-9:30 a.m., at the Algoma Community Wellness Center, 1715 Division St., Algoma.
Dempsey said they tried to fit in as many sessions of the program as they could as they had to pick dates “based off of the availability of the Wellness Center” and work between her schedule and the students’ school schedule.