Tech tutoring links Fairfield Ludlowe students, seniors
Updated 6:03 am, Monday, April 11, 2016
A group of Fairfield Ludlowe High School students sets up camp in the center’s dining hall Wednesday afternoons, offering tech help to anyone who needs it.
“I’ve always had a computer,” Mangieri said, “and then I realized I can’t ignore this anymore. I might as well face it.” And with that, Mangieri bought not only an iPad, but also an iPhone.
Her greatest fear, she said, was opening a program on one of the devices and not being able to close out of it. But with the help of Sean Oppenheimer, a 16-year-old junior at Ludlowe, Mangieri got help on basics of the tech world — getting online and sending text messages.
“This is wonderful,” Mangieri said. “He’s so patient and knowledgeable.”
Oppenheimer organized the tutoring service during his freshman year, after helping his grandmother with her smart phone. At first, he said, he was the only one tutoring at the senior center, but soon found himself overwhelmed and recruited fellow students to help out.
That way, he said, the seniors were able to get one-on-one help. “It’s a good thing, you don’t feel like others are judging you when you ask a question,” Oppenheimer said.
He said he and the other tech tutors, including Kevin Wheeler, a 15-year-old sophomore, are at the senior center each Wednesday from 3 to 4 p.m., helping people on a drop-in basis.
Mangieri said she would be back for more help. “You’ll see me again,” she said.
After taking a break with the sessions during the winter months, there haven’t been as many people coming in for help, Oppenheimer said, which he also attributed to a change of the tutoring time from Thursdays to Wednesdays.
Signs have been posted around the center to alert seniors about the tech-help sessions and, Oppenheimer said, people need not be a member of the center to take advantage of the tutoring.
The help is available for all types of devices — cell phone, tablet or laptop — and the seniors should bring their devices to the session.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction” in helping others, said another tutor, Joseph Epstein, a 17-year-old junior at Fairfield Ludlowe. “I’ve always liked showing people how to do things.”
Epstein said he makes sure to jot down some notes for the seniors to take home for guidance. And in exchange for helping the older adults conquer technology, Epstein said, he gets to hear some interesting stories from his students.
“Sometimes, it’s a complex question,” Epstein said of the challenges he sometimes faces, and requires that they “get the whole gang involved. We’re usually able to solve it together.”
Even on those few occasions when Ludlowe tutors can’t help, Epstein said, “people are grateful that we tried and that’s what I appreciate.”
Adithya Anand, 14, said his mother was looking for volunteer opportunities for the Ludlowe freshman to take part in. They found out about Oppenheimer’s program, and after checking it out, he said, “I liked it ... I was helping seniors and it was fun. It gives me happiness to say I did something.”
Carol Miller, herself a volunteer at the center as well as a client, stopped in for tech tutoring after she finished with an art class. “I had a very specific problem,” Miller said. A book program downloaded at the library to her tablet was not only showing half the page, it had frozen. “The young men discovered it had been locked, and they unlocked it,” she said, and the display went back to full page. Unfortunately, Miller said, the page was still locked, so she planned to go back to the library to see if its staff could solve that issue.
“I just love the senior center,” Miller said.
But tutoring clients about technology is not all the high school students have done at the center. They have, said Margaret Andrews, program coordinator, also helped prepare two new promotional videos for the center.
“They must have put in hundreds of hours,” Andrews said, including about two months worth of filming. “I’m so fond of them all.”