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Renaissance Academy students build computer skills with Pass IT On

Customized curriculums emphasize career readiness and IT expertise

Charles Sheppard, who graduated from Renaissance Academy in June, has always had a knack for computers. 

“Tech has always been my thing,” says Charles. “I like taking devices apart, putting them back together — seeing how they work. My classmates are always coming to me for tech support.” 

Because Charles tested well above what he would have learned in a Technology Education class, he was invited to a special advanced class hosted by Dr. Willie Sanders Jr., a professor of cybersecurity at Towson University and Executive Director of Pass IT On, a Baltimore nonprofit working to eliminate the technology skills gap. 

In class, Charles and his five classmates learned advanced IT skills like networking, cybersecurity, software troubleshooting and other concepts that are crucial to earning the CompTIA IT Fundamentals certification — an industry standard. 

“These are high-level IT concepts we’re working through,” says Dr. Sanders. “For these students to do so well on their computer literacy test, they obviously have a natural interest in computers and discovering how things work. If you have that desire, you can learn so much. These skills are in-demand across government, academia and corporate America and lead to successful, high-earning careers”

Renaissance Academy’s partnership with Pass IT On wasn’t only for advanced students. For those who needed training in more traditional computer literacy, Dr. Sanders and Pass IT On offered help as well. “When we were evaluating the results of the computer literacy placement test, we realized that a lot of our students could really benefit from a focus on the fundamentals,” says Sonia Legg, Renaissance Academy’s technology teacher. “Pass IT On helped us build out and deliver a curriculum that was appropriate for our students.”

Dr. Sanders and his team created a customized Google Classroom course for Renaissance Academy, taught by Ms. Legg, that combined video tutorials, practice quizzes, and lectures. “The course is designed to teach students how to use a computer in a business setting,” says Dr. Sanders. “It includes topics like computer ethics, basic productivity software and anti-bullying. When students head off to college or enter the workforce, they need to have the basic computer skills to succeed, even if they aren’t planning on going into the IT field.”

For Charles Sheppard, the advanced class focused his career ambitions. “Maybe I can be a structural engineer or a mechanic. There are always plenty of careers in IT. I just know it’s rewarding to solve problems.”

Pass IT On’s work at Renaissance Academy was supported by the University of Maryland School of Social Work’s Promise Heights Initiative. 

Learn more about Pass IT On’s offerings for students and adults in Baltimore.

 

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