April 03, 2019

'It's opened my eyes': Tech Goes Home student spotlight

TGH-profile-small.jpgMelissa Schwartz is a mom to five kids, in 5th to 10th grade, and on any given weeknight in their Hixson home, there’s a lot of homework that needs to get done. With just two poorly functioning laptops in the house for the kids to share, Melissa decided to sign up for a Tech Goes Home class with her daughter so that they could bring home a new Chromebook for a discounted $50.

Melissa and 7th grader Malorie completed the course at Hixson Middle School this winter, and they walked away with much more than a Chromebook.

“I never get a lot of one-on-one time with my kids,” Melissa says. “It was an hour-and-a-half every week, just me and her.”

Tech Goes Home was established in Chattanooga in 2015 to address digital inequity, a problem that affects people of all ages in our local community and all over the country. For students, there’s a divide between those who have access to devices and internet connectivity at home, and those who struggle with tech-based assignments. Tech Goes Home has has programs for all ages, but the school-based programs are specifically aimed at addressing the “homework gap.”

During their Tech Goes Home course, Melissa and Malorie learned how to use Google Suite and navigate the extensive resources available through the Chattanooga Public Library’s website.

“That was amazing,” Melissa says. “I didn’t know there was online courses for adults, to get GED, learn second languages, or get help with resume or job search.”

Melissa also learned how to use a host of tools that could help all five of her kids with homework and help her oldest prepare for the ACT, SAT, and driving license permit test. And as the family photographer, Melissa loved learning how to make slideshows and videos using Spark Video.

These days, homework time at the Schwartz household goes a little smoother. Before Tech Goes Home, Melissa had a hard time assisting all of her kids with homework, especially because she says, “math to me is like Chinese.” Now, about four or five times a week, her kids use online homework help tools through the Chattanooga Public Library, and there’s one more computer in the house.

Because of the course, Melissa has also begun to think about some things she would like to learn to for herself, like a second language or new techniques in the kitchen.

“It’s opened my eyes,” Melissa says. “Even though I’m a stay at home mom, there’s nothing saying I can’t better myself.”