Norfolk preschool helps adults with computer skills

Posted October 15

— Near the end of last school year, a group of tech-savvy 4-year-olds at the Berkley-Campostella Early Childhood Center took on a project to put their digital skills to the test.

Using iPads, about 10 of them filmed videos to give the school's 3-year-old students a sense of what would be in store for them during the following school year.

"At first, we were like, what are they going to do with it? What can they really do?" teacher Karen Gregory said. "But then we saw the finished product. It was amazing."

The next step for the school: Help adults in the community feel as comfortable with the technology as the pre-kindergarten students.

The center recently launched an outreach and technology lab designed to do just that. It's the last phase of the White House ConnectEd Initiative, a federal grant awarded to 114 schools across the country. The grants are geared toward closing digital gaps in low-income areas.

"The goal is to teach community members exactly what our students are learning," Principal Doreatha White said.

The lab offers access to iPads and MacBook Air notebooks, along with training on how to build presentations, spreadsheets and resumes. And community members may request other lessons catered to their needs. The lab will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday.

"This brings a lot to the community," parent 46-year-old Rodnita Solomon said. "People need help. This will help people get jobs, help them be able to communicate. This will give them the upper hand and show them, hey, you can do it, too."

Teacher Antwoin McKee grew up two blocks from the center, located near Wilson and East Indian River roads. He said the area — separated from the northern half of Norfolk by the Elizabeth River — can feel isolated. The lab changes that.

"This gives us a chance to go on the other side of the water, a chance to branch out and see what's on the other side digitally," he said. "And not just on the other side of the water, but around the world."


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