Bridging the Digital Divide: Beacon Broadband’s IT Essentials course educates high school students and senior citizens
In a rapidly evolving world where technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, the importance of digital literacy and careers in the tech sector has never been more significant. Unfortunately, in many communities—including ours— access to information technology education is limited. The scarcity of qualified professionals in the tech field, combined with the rapid expansion of technology-related industries, has created an ongoing challenge. Local employers often have difficulty finding qualified job candidates to fill these roles.
Fortunately, there’s a positive change happening on the southern coast of Oregon, thanks to the proactive efforts of Beacon Broadband. The team has introduced a groundbreaking computer science elective program at Brookings-Harbor High School, aimed at bridging this gap and equipping the next generation with essential skills for the continued growth and prosperity of our community.
The IT Essentials course—a joint effort between Brookings-Harbor School District and Beacon Broadband—addresses the need to provide technical education and training as early as high school.
“It is important to us at Beacon Broadband to help build skills in our region and help bring the high-speed fiber experience where no one else will go—from pre-workforce youth to retirees,” Beacon Broadband General Manager Paul Recanzone says. “The IT Essentials class is designed to help young people develop technical skills they can use to support regional businesses, start their own business or come to work at Beacon Broadband.”
Through the program, students gain a deep understanding of computer hardware, operating systems and computer programming, paving the way for tech careers. The goal is to empower students to someday make a local impact, by nurturing future talent that can drive local business and contribute to the region’s prosperity. Beacon Broadband’s mission, to bring the fiber experience where no one else will go, is not just about expanding its subscriber base but also about fostering innovation and knowledge in underserved areas.
Bonnie Raleigh, the instructor for the IT Essentials course, has been instrumental in launching this pilot program. Her dedication and expertise have been pivotal in ensuring its success. Beacon Broadband acknowledges her as a key collaborator, without whom this initiative would not have been possible.
The program also extends beyond classroom instruction, integrating seamlessly with Beacon Broadband’s Connected Senior initiative. Students in the program become educators, using the skills they learn to teach digital literacy to senior citizens in the Brookings-Harbor region.
“Skilled seniors with online access skills can carry out necessary tasks like banking, shopping, telemedicine and visiting virtually with relatives, neighbors and friends. Some will even come out of retirement and work from home. It’s a win-win for our senior community,” says Beacon Broadband Vice President of Sales and Marketing Bill Gerski, who introduced the program.
In today’s digital age, seniors often face challenges navigating the complexities of technology. From understanding computers to managing email and staying connected online, many find it daunting. This integrative program offers guidance and imparts essential digital skills.
Connected Senior not only enriches the lives of seniors but also equips them with the tools to thrive in an increasingly digital world. Connected Senior exemplifies this commitment in action, showcasing how education can bridge generational divides and strengthen the social fabric of a community.
Looking ahead, the Beacon Broadband team envisions the IT Essentials course expanding into other regions within the service territory. Currently, no school in the region offers a comparable course, making this initiative a trailblazer in rural education. The potential for workforce development stemming from this program is immense, promising a brighter future for the entire region.
IT Essentials is for students to emerge with IT certifications, setting them on a path to becoming valuable assets to employers. Beacon Broadband aims to extend its support beyond the classroom by offering these certified students summer employment opportunities—a testament to their commitment to local talent development.
Beacon Broadband’s IT Essentials course at Brookings-Harbor High School is not merely a class; it’s a beacon of hope for rural education and community empowerment. It stands as a testament to the power of collaboration between education and industry, creating a brighter future for students, seniors and the entire community. As Beacon Broadband continues its mission to bring technology to underserved areas, we can only anticipate the positive impact it will have on countless lives and the regions it serves.