By Johnna Laird
A Harker Academy high school senior who came to FCSN to teach computer skills one-on-one to special needs clients found himself this fall with a classroom full of FCSN staff members, eager to learn graphic design.
Eighteen FCSN staff members met weekly over Zoom for 10 weeks in a Train-the-Trainer class developed by Eric Zhu with the goal of improving presentations and direct instruction to clients.
Zhu, the instructor, used the seven-lesson enrichment program that he developed for his FCSN students as his foundation and then added additional projects and concepts. He adapted his training for a larger class.
Starting at FCSN in 2019 teaching a Microsoft Office enrichment program, Eric soon became a lead volunteer. As a lead, he designed his own graphic design course. Word spread of his talents, and he was recruited to work with staff.
The greatest challenge for this high schooler working with adults came as a result of teaching an entire class of teachers with a range of skill levels, requiring individualized instruction.
“I would have to explain everything in detail but also add some nuance for those more advanced to understand,” said Eric, adding that accomplishing this skill is extremely helpful, especially when teaching this graphics course to special needs students who demonstrate a large variety of skill level.
Eric was surprised by how terrific the questions were that came from FCSN’s staff and the willingness to explore new features, spending time beyond homework assignments to create their designs.
“A number of staff members did not see themselves initially as creative, but their work showed them exploring their creativity,” said Eric.
Executive Business Director Sylvia Yeh said clients will begin benefitting from the training in January as FCSN rolls out new courses. Yeh used the training for her 21-slide presentation as part of FCSN’s presentation in Department of Developmental Services’ four-part symposium on alternative services during the pandemic. Parents participating in the December meeting on December 16 had an opportunity for an unveiling of the skills. She also presented the “Graphic Design” Train the Trainer Model at the meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Otv_x1b3bQ
Eric came to FCSN in 2019 after recognizing the need to share his computer knowledge with special needs students, bringing both learning and fun. “I have always wanted to give back the knowledge I have to make a difference in a community.”
Upon graduation from Harker next spring, Eric plans to attend college and major in computer science or computer engineering. He is considering a minor in graphic design.