New to Scott County Schools and present only at GCHS for this academic year is the Information Technology Program led by instructor Mr. Dewayne Hancock. This program is one of the career pathways laid out by the Kentucky Department of Education and its focus is to provide students with a variety of skills that will make them employable.
According to Hancock, Info Tech “is rated as one of the fastest growing career industry sectors in our state, nation, and globally. IT can take on many faces from graphic design, to web design, to programming, to video game development, to working with hardware and software components of a computer.” Since IT is often considered as the backbone of many companies, the Warhawk IT program is instrumental in helping prepare students for in-demand careers in the IT field.
Students who participate in the IT program get real-world experience providing support for the school through a fully functioning Help Desk, which Mr. Hancock said provides real work experience. As the program grows and becomes more fully established, Mr. Hancock shared that students will be able to meet the needs of local customers, such as the Scott County School District, local government offices, and even community businesses. Eventually customers of the IT program will be able to “request jobs to be completed in class using the software and equipment the students are being trained on, said Hancock. These experiences will allow students to gain meaningful real-world experience through the program.
While the goal is to expand the real world projects that students can complete as the program grows, there have been many satisfied customers this year already. The GCHS PTO asked students in the IT program to design promotional flyers for spirit nights they were hosting, as well as the social media images used to advertise the winter semi-formal they hosted. Students also designed and printed the tickets sold for the dance. Leslie Murphy, teacher liaison for the PTO said “Our group was very pleased with the quality of the work done by the IT students. They were receptive to feedback and made sure that the finished product was what we wanted. Everything looked polished and professional when finished.”
This real-world experience is key to helping IT students develop professional skills. For example, Mr. Hancock highlights that “Students who apply themselves in the IT program will be ready for employment, during high school as a co-op student or in the workforce after graduation. They will also be prepared for next level training, whether that be at a local community college, 4-year institution or private certification program.” Moreover, Mr. Hancock’s teaching approach focuses on excellence. He emphasizes, “The development of perseverance and expectation for high quality work is not something employers take lightly, and as an instructor, neither do I. From customer service to technical skills, my goal is for IT students to be some of the top candidates for the jobs they apply for.”
Senior Sara Murphy is enrolled in the program this year, and she agreed that the work she does in class has benefits for her career, while also being enjoyable. Murphy said, “I am learning ways to create websites and banners and fill out requests for people such as posters. This will help me with future possible business endeavors.”
Much of the real-world design and work the department does is on display in the hallways of Great Crossing. Mr. Hancock notes that all students need to do is to look around where they can see some of the differences the department has already made. “For example, many of the banners, signage and promotional posters that are hanging on the walls at GCHS have been produced in the IT lab,” he explained. He added that “As students are learning graphic design skills, it is important for products they produce to be used in public areas” because it increases their pride and confidence. They know that “These skills are not just something they can list on a resume or job application” but are projects that build important skills in design, production, and problem solving– skills that can give them a competitive edge in the fast-growing field of IT.
Since the IT program is new, it had to overcome the initial challenges regarding equipment, installations, and launching operations. However, with the hard work and dedication to providing the Info Tech opportunity to students, the program is up and running well. Mr. Hancock praises those “students who are showing interest and a positive work ethic” and notes that they “are being provided the flexibility to move more quickly through training exercises so that they can get to the hands-on work requested by customers.”
Perhaps the biggest success of the program in its first year is students understand it’s value. Lincoln Neaves, sophomore, is very happy that he is involved with the IT pathway. “I enjoy working with Hancock and designing things to be used in the school and other places in Georgetown. I like seeing my products out and about being used, instead of being tossed away or thrown in a drawer. Infotech gives me legitimate skills to be used later in life, and to give me a guaranteed job opportunity should I need it. I plan on going into welding for a job, but this gives me a backup should it not go anywhere, even with how rare that is, and if it turns out I don’t like welding, I have something I truly enjoy.”