El Segundo High School

Teens doing good: Meet the Teen Tech Tutors

Kristen Copin and Jacob Pace, both in 12th grade at Aliso Niguel High School, saw an opportunity to help bring senior citizens up to date on technology. Many senior citizens did not grow up with the technology that we millennials did. So, devices such as iPhones and iPads are intimidating to seniors. But Copin and Pace realized that with a little bit of nurturing and patient instruction, they could help the seniors in their community become tech savvy.

Copin had been helping her grandfather with his first iPad. In the process, he realized how important tech mentoring was in bridging a gap of knowledge that senior citizens simply had not grown up with.

“I could help people like my grandfather in my community,” said Copin. “I wanted to offer senior citizens help that was tailored to them to hopefully eliminate frustration, and I wanted to spread technology literacy.”

While Copin came up with the idea, and was the visionary for Teen Tech Tutors, she approached Pace to help create and execute the concept. Pace met with the Sea Country and Senior Center Director Ms. Cathy Angstadt to launch the program, working together to get seniors and tutors involved. The City of Laguna Niguel Parks and Recreation Department along with the City of Laguna Niguel Senior Citizens Committee and High School Volunteers from Aliso Niguel High School and Dana Hills High School all worked together to launch Copin’s vision.

Copin and Pace recruited a team of Teen Tech Tutors, including: Aidin Spina; Sam Ezratty; Xiadani Vazquez; Gillian Nguyen; Tula Masterman; Patrick Dempsey; Delaney Keeler; Ko Takahashi, Satyadeep Beta; Anushka Bhaskar; Caitlin Lamarche; Heather Andrini; Jennifer Santos; Milli Zunich.

This past summer, the Teen Tech Tutors started a class at Laguna Niguel’s Sea Country and Senior Center, to introduce senior citizens the basics of the iPad. Pace was not only the main contact point between the senior center and the teen tutors, he was also the teacher, and created the power points. Copin would assist by one-on-one in-class assistance for those who needed help with what Pace had just taught. This dynamic duo and the Teen Tech Tutors became an instant hit!

They started with the basics, such as how to turn the iPad on, and how to access Wi-Fi. As the weeks progressed, they moved into more complex tasks, such as setting dates and reminders in the calendar app. Toward the end of the class, the seniors were taught how to set bookmarks in Safari and even send photos in an email. Once the class was competed, the senior citizens were fully capable of conducting basic actions on their iPads without any help. The overall experience was overwhelmingly positive!

In addition to the classes, the duo set up a one-on-one tech tutoring program to ensure that all specific questions were covered. In the class setting, it was difficult to address the senior’s personal questions because they were trying to teach a variety of topics to a variety of skill levels. For example, in the class, they taught everybody how to download an email app, but in one-on-one tutoring, they were able to actually set up a senior’s account, add their contacts, and help them send their first few emails. Another example of the one-on-one tutoring was that in the class they showed how to open the reminders app and showed the seniors how to set reminders, but in one-on-one the seniors could give the teen tech tutors their schedules and the tutors could help them set their reminders for the week. One-on-one was designed to be less stressful for the tutors and less frustrating for the seniors because the tutors could focus on just one set of questions, and the seniors had the undivided attention of a tutor.

This one-on-one time was a win-win, where the tutors got to personally get to know the seniors and found that they had so much knowledge to offer. While the Teen Tech Tutors were the teachers, they were able to learn a plethora of facts about the past through the stories the seniors told of their experiences.

“I could not be more grateful for having been able to make an impact on (our elders) who are shapers of our society,” said Pace  “The program proved to be such a success over the summer. The center wanted us to return during the school year. We are continuing the one-on-one tutoring at the Senior Center every Friday after school. And, we plan to continue the one-on-one tutoring throughout this school year, and perhaps hold another four-week introductory class next summer, as well as to expand to other Senior Centers in the area.”

“This program has become an integral part of Sea Country Center’s Senior Programs and its senior citizens are becoming more confident in their new technological skills,” said Ms. Madrigal from the Sea Country Senior Center. “Using technology to connect generations has helped create more ideas for other intergenerational programs because of the new relationship between the two generations. This program would not be successful without its amazing high school volunteers.”