From rotary to touchscreen

AST helps teach tech to seniors

As a second time instructor, senior Claire Bartolone helps Shelia with her Nexus tablet.

Molly Cunningham , Staff Reporter

Have you ever received an all caps lock message from your grandma? Have you tried to call your grandpa but he never picked up his phone? Well, due to these common problems plaguing the older generations, the Association of Students for Tolerance is here to help the senior citizens in the class learn how to use various pieces of technology.

“It makes my day better to know that I’ve made someone else’s day better,” sophomore Carolyn Bartolone said.  “There are a lot of senior citizens who don’t get to see their kids a lot and their husbands and wives have passed away so it means a lot to them to have a friendly person willing to help them.”

Two years ago, the class was just for cell phones and the seniors would come in with either iPhones that their children had bought for them or flip phones that you haven’t seen since your middle school days. Now, after doing approximately two classes per quarter, AST now teaches everything from iPhones and iPads to laptop computers, cameras, and other types of tablets. The one-on-one attention the seniors receive from the AST members helps them feel more comfortable and less anxious about going to the phone provider’s store.

“I teach the classes because I can imagine how weird technology must seem to them,” Bartolone said. “You get one-on-one experience, and they’re all incredibly kind.”

Skills AST members usually have to teach include photo taking, e-mail, Facebook, using contact lists, changing ringtones, and more. The seniors usually come in with a notepad and pen with every question they want answered written down and by the time 5:30 comes along, in the hour-and-half time period of the class, they have almost mastered their questions.

“I enjoy working with seniors, and I understand how frustrating it is when you are unable to master a skill, especially when others find it easy,” Carolyn’s sister senior Claire Bartolone said.

With only a few classes left in the year, AST members hope that more people will come to Cantata to teach the technology classes because they are a lot of fun, but there are rewards too.

“Personally, I think it’s fun,” sophomore Katie Nash said. “But also, you just feel like a better person because you just helped someone connect with the people they love.”

If you are willing to try something new, AST will appreciate your help. If you are patient, ready to learn something yourself, and spend a relaxing afternoon teaching, come teach a class!

“Someone should definitely come to teach a class, because you end up having a really great experience,” Carolyn Bartolone said.  “They want to learn how to work their phones, but they also want to get to know you.”

Students interested in teaching a tech class at Cantata should stop by AST sponsor John Beasley’s room 234 to sign up. There is a class on Wednesday, January 28 from 4-5:30. Transportation to and from school is provided.