AT&T Starts Employee Training Early

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 3, 1999 | Go to article overview

AT&T Starts Employee Training Early


Byline: Karen Kutz

Thirty-three Addison children are spending three weeks of their summer vacation in class writing research papers.

And they're loving it.

"It's so much fun," said Auni Patel, who will be an eighth-grader at Indian Trails Junior High School. "It's not boring like school."

The junior high students, who are from several schools in Addison, are part of an AT&T Cyber Navigators Camp at College of DuPage's Addison campus. The campers meet for 6 1/2 hours a day for 14 days.

In the morning, the kids break into groups and perform experiments and solve problems under the leadership of four science teachers hired by AT&T.

During the afternoons, the children work in teams researching science topics over the Internet.

Whether they're learning about the planets in the solar system or how an electric car works, they all compile their new-found knowledge into a computer-generated presentation.

The computer lab is a busy and noisy place on these afternoons. The teams of children work on their projects independently while 10 adult tutors AT&T has hired answer questions.

The rule is the adults can't touch the computers, said tutor Bertie Ratliff.

"The kids have to learn for themselves," said Ratliff, a community development coordinator for Addison District 4 elementary schools. "We call it engaged learning."

Each of the student teams is paired up with another team working in another AT&T camp in downstate University Park. Each half of a team has half of the responsibility for each project and the students communicate through e-mail.

One of the main reasons AT&T sponsors technology camps is to make sure the firm will have employees in the future, said Dorothy Odell Foster, who coordinates the camps. Much of what the children learn in the camps will help them succeed in a competitive, technology-driven market place, Foster said.

The children learn about computers, learn about science, learn to work in teams with minimum supervision and learn how to communicate without being next to all of their team mates.

"AT&T has a unique vantage point to see how the Internet and communications technology is changing the way we live," Foster said. "We want to share that with people in the communities where our employees live and work."

Thankful for support

Judy Oakton, an assistant principal at Glenbard North High School, believes she's found a positive side to her battle with breast cancer.

The administrator at the Carol Stream school said she was amazed at the outpouring of support handed her last school year.

"When I came back, everyone was willing to help me and share the load," Oakton said. "People supported me so much at school - it was overwhelming. …

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