Ever been to the very back of the school, where the portables, the levy, and the B-wing meet? Ever walked by History teacher William Taylor’s room and wondered why there is a house on campus? You’re not the only one.
“This building used to be the living facility for the high school guard,” said Joe D’Alexander, the man currently in charge of the aging house.
D’Alexander runs the Sacramento branch of the nonprofit organization SeniorNet, an international program striving to teach people over the age of fifty how to use technology, especially computers.
“SeniorNet has been in business since 1990, and in 1998 our previous facility shut down,” said D’Alexander, “We started looking for a new location and San Juan offered us this place.”
The program then had to convert the house into the world class instruction facility it is today.
“I did all the wiring.” said D’Alexander “We don’t have a wifi set up yet, so we wire all the internet to each individual computer.”
“There are 16 computer stations, each individual has their own computer during classes,” said D’Alexander.
On top of that, the house has other technology unique to senior instruction.
“We older people have trouble hearing,” said D’Alexander “The headset microphone we have allows the instructor to talk loud which takes care of hearing problems.”
D’Alexander also has a machine which converts old slides into digital copies.
“During our youth our pictures were in the form of slides, not mega-pixels,” said D’Alexander “Most of my generation has oodles of slides so we teach how to repair and organize them.”
“We also teach courses on graphics [Photoshop] using Adobe and we are about to start teaching a course on iPads.”
“They [the students] are as nervous as can be. The mouse is their biggest enemy. We know this so we don’t rush them and they eventually start to relax,” D’Alexander said.
“It is not so much now, but 15 years ago most people had no experience with computers and it’s our job to teach the stragglers.”
D’Alexander, along with his fellow instructors and assistants finds teaching “very satisfying” which is why they volunteer and don’t mind the absence of a paycheck.
“We charge thirty dollars for every six sessions,” said D’Alexander.
The money they charge, along with the money donated by sponsors goes to funding for facilities and technology used by the program.
Along with River City Bank, San Juan can claim the title of sponsor for the educational organization.