A well-oiled machine

High school freshmen are participating in the Tech Squad, a group that will help out clients with computer and technology issues at the Bustleton Library.

Let’s get digital: Tech Squad is a newly formed group of freshmen at George Washington High School who will be available at the Bustleton Library on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to help anyone who comes in with technology concerns. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

Broken computer? New iPhone update makes no sense? No need to call the Geek Squad. George Washington High School has its own tech support group.

The newly founded Tech Squad is a group of freshmen who will be available at the Bustleton Library on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to help anyone who comes in with technology concerns. The group was formed to serve the community and get students more experience in the field in potential career paths before they graduate.

“One of our priorities is student development in post-secondary support,” said Caitlyn Boyle, community school coordinator. GWHS recently finalized its community school priorities, and supporting students post-graduation neared the top of the list.

While trying to figure out some of the community initiatives, Boyle stopped at Somerton Civic Association to listen to concerns of what the public wants. Someone suggested providing seniors with an easy way to get help with technology.

“The idea was inspired by Apple’s Genius Bar,” Boyle said, referring to the company’s walk-in tech support service. Tech Squad students will be recognizable by their bright blue T-shirts emblazoned with the group’s name.

Tech-savvy high school freshmen were recruited by Dr. Aja Carpenter, assistant principal for the ninth grade, and other teachers. That’s how Rustamjon Marboyev got involved.

“I usually help my cousins and my dad’s friends a lot with technology by translating, so I can help people here,” he said. Rustamjon speaks English, Russian and Uzbek. When recruiting students, the staff made sure to include those with a wide variety of backgrounds and languages like Georgian, Chinese, Spanish and Ukrainian so anyone can receive help.

Rustamjon said he grew up with technology, and is excited to help more people.

After receiving training, the Tuesday and Thursday support groups are ready to help. They will be available in the Bustleton Library Tuesdays from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., and Thursdays from 12:05 to 12:45 p.m.

Vanessa Santiago is also a high school freshman, which by default makes her an iPhone expert. On Thursday she helped a client set up an email account on his phone.

“I just want to help people, because you don’t really get the chance to do that when you’re in school all day,” she said.

Participating in the program gives students experience in the field as well.

“I’m definitely interested in pursuing a career in computer science,” Rustamjon said.

Fatimah Mitchell is a college and career readiness coordinator who helps give students early experience. She’s been overseeing this endeavor and others at GWHS, all of which are recently starting.

“I really like the idea that the kids are pushing into the community more,” she said. “The fact that students come over here and are able to help is exciting. We’ve only just opened but we’ve already seen customers come in and be very excited to be able to receive help.”

Mitchell graduated from GWHS in 2006, and said she’s glad to see how many more opportunities students have now.

“This is one of those things that will help them develop customer service, interpersonal and social skills that they will use in almost any profession,” Boyle said. Students will also be able to put the experience toward community service hours.

Kristin Sawka of the Bustleton Library said it was a pilot program for the library, and she hopes the program will expand to after-school, weekend and summer hours in the future.

“Ideally, we would also like to branch it out to where the kids live in the city,” she said. ••