By Tracey K., Parent
She’s a software developer at Intel who recently moved to the Bay Area. She travels to Colorado and India and, although she’s never been to Universal Studios, she loves thrill rides. She knows a thing or two about Harry Potter, and can easily carry on a conversation with a 10 year old on the topic.
These are some of the things that 5th grade Villager, my daughter Cat, can share about her PC Pal, Riti. After more than a year of bi-weekly emails, the two have become friends. Cat is thrilled to have a connection with an adult who is involved in her life not out of any sort of parental, teacher or other grown-up obligation, but simply because she wants to be a positive influence in a child’s life. Riti and Cat share questions and answers via email through PC Pals, an email based mentoring program that Teacher Michele introduced to the classroom last year.
Through PC Pals, students are paired with Intel employees or retirees during the school year, exchanging emails once or twice per week. Using a program called ‘Gaggle’, which is closed only to the pair of PC Pals and the teacher, Ms. Michele determines what types of topics to cover, augmenting what they are doing in the classroom.
The program offers students practical development of writing and communications skills, a connection to local business and technology professionals, and the ongoing encouragement, support and commitment from an adult role model in their community. In addition, PC Pals also offers financial support for the school. Through Intel’s volunteer matching grant program, the school earns $10 per hour that employees volunteer for education and non-profits.
After exchanging messages for several months, last year’s class was able to take a field trip to Intel to have lunch with their PC Pals and tour the Intel Museum. This year, the Intel PC Pals came to Village. Although a field trip is always nice, since the PC Pals came bearing cookies and a fun pair of Intel sunglasses, all was well with the Snowboarding Snow Leopards and the visit was a huge hit. For many of the Intel volunteers, it was the first time in many years that they had visited an elementary school site. Village energy and excitement greeted them in full force.
Cat looks forward to learning more about computer science, places she’s never been, and rollercoasters. She looks forward to sharing more about the computer parts she saw in the take-apart club, what she did during winter break, and exchanging a bit of Harry Potter trivia. She’ll answer her PC Pal’s questions and then ask at least two more. Together they will accompany each other through the school year. Pals they are: Riti and Cat.