Yolo County's Project HAWK

Workshop: Teachers and administrators participate in technology learning experience.

Lauri Bailey, Yolo County Superintendent of Schools

"Out of the entire Coalition of Essential Schools Conference, your HAWK Program stands foremost in my mind and I felt compelled to write you. You and your teaching colleagues brought a song to my heart as I saw what hands-on involvement/care and service oriented teaching can do for a student's self-esteem about their education. Bravo to you, Ms. Bailey and all involved in making your program a success. We at Irvington were so impressed." (Jeannette Frechou, Educator, Irvington High School).

Ms. Frechou was writing in response to her experience during a two and a half hour interactive workshop attended by teachers, administrators, and Apple Computer, Inc. executives, during which participants experienced first hand the power of technology as a tool for interweaving education and service to communities as a potent force in educational reform. What is remarkable about this workshop experience is that the colleagues referred to were students. And not just any students, but students from four Community and one Continuation High School who comprise Project HAWK (Habitat Alliance and Wildlife Keepers).

Project HAWK is a CalServe service learning partnership that involves youth in meaningful community projects designed to have a positive impact on the community, students academic progress and their own sense of self worth. The project began with the restoration of a wildlife sanctuary on Cache Creek in Yolo County. The existing partnership between Yolo County Superintendent of Schools, the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District and Woodland Community High School was joined in 1995 by Apple Computer, Inc. as part of Apple's Partners In Education grant program. The addition of state of the art technology added a dimension to service learning which has put Project HAWK and its Alternative Education Programs at the forefront of efforts to interweave education, business and technology into a curriculum which prepares youth to transition effectively into the world of work.

Working closely with MicroComputer Training and Support Specialist James Summers, of the Information and Technology Services Department, the students and staff designed the workshop to demonstrate the ability of students to learn a complex application such as Macro-Media's Director 4.0 with a short (3 week) time frame, utilize the multimedia application Hyperstudio as the teaching context, and model quality coaching techniques to workshop participants as they developed a Hyperstudio stack within the workshop time frame. The result in the words of Van Schoales, Director for the Bay Area Coalition of Essential Schools was the most talked about session of the Conference.

At first glance, the relationship between a technology support division, whose primary focus has been the "nuts and bolts" of Educational District data and business support services, and an educational program that is often the last stop for students ousted from traditional educational programs may seem a far stretch. However, the combination of skilled technical experience and raw student creativity provides the perfect context for mentoring relationships that enable youth to experience, in an adult forum, the relevance of the technological abilities to their current educations and later job opportunities. In both education and business, the training and experience in practically applying multi-media concepts and transferring that knowledge to clients in an efficient, enjoyable and effective manner are highly desirable employee traits.

The collaboration has produced a new interdepartmental working relationship, where the strengths of education and technology support services can be blended to enhance both departments. The model is the basis for future projects that include the development by students of Internet home pages for the Yolo County Superintendent of Schools and planning for a summer workshop for educators seeking training in integrating technology and service to the community across the curriculum. Coaching staff will, of course, include experienced students.

Perhaps more important though are the human relationships that have developed. The students and staff of Instructional Services are no longer numbers on a page, and the personnel in the Information and Technology Services are "real" people rather than nameless machines. There is a clearer understanding of the mission of both departments along with the skill and energy that is expended to meet each oneีs objectives. The result is the much sought after "win win situation" for the students, educators, staff and community served by the Yolo County Superintendent of Schools.

Lauri Bailey is the Project HAWK Coordinator for the Yolo County Superintendent of Schools. James Summers is a MicroComputer Training and Support Specialist.