School makes good use of used military computers

By Jeff Landenberger DLA Disposition Services

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Students at the Royal Point Academy, San Antonio, Texas now have their hands on computers once used by members of the military, thanks to DLA Disposition Services and the DOD Computers for Learning program.

Military units turn in computer equipment to DLA Disposition Services that is no longer needed to accomplish their mission.  Much of it remains useable, still ready to serve.    

That is very good news for schools looking for ways to acquire the IT tools they need at an affordable cost.  

One of the people putting that used hardware back in service is Misty Mercado, the technology instructor at Royal Point Academy.  She says it is a not-for-profit school that receives no outside funding.

“The majority of our students are military (dependents),” Mercado said, while several of the teachers and administrators also have ties to the military, either as a former service member or because they are married to one.

“We have a very unique opportunity at our school to teach kids,” she said. “We also relate to those in the military because we have all walked that life so we know what the moving is like, we know what the PCSing is like, we know what it’s like for kids to try to make new friends when they PCS in the middle of the year and so we have a very very unique teaching staff here that are able to relate to the kids.”

She has been working with the team at DLA Disposition Services at San Antonio for the past year putting together her schools tech lab.  “We want to keep our tuition affordable which can also make it a little bit tough for us to raise the funds to create a $40,000 technology lab,” she said.

Mercado said she has acquired 22 laptops so far along with peripherals for them. Two large screen TVs were also received and are used for digital instruction classes.   

“The laptops alone would have been anywhere from $1200 to $2000 dollars a laptop,” Mercado said.  

Computers from the program are issued without hard drives. To raise the needed funds to purchase new hard drives the school held a fundraiser.

“We ended up getting hard drives for $35 apiece, massive savings,” Mercado said.  And when it came time to install them, she and a parent volunteer did the work.

Now that the lab is operational Mercado said that she works with the other academy instructors so that the work being done in the technology lab reinforces the lessons the students learn in the rest of the school.

She said that her goal as the technology instructor is to teach her students to understand how the machines work and how to operate them. Then when they sit down at a computer in the real world to do actual work they will be ready.

“Our kids today; they know phones, they know tablets they know devices, they don’t know computers,” she said.  As a result, “they don’t know how to type on a keyboard, they don’t know the proper posture, they don’t understand how a mouse works, they don’t know how to flip back and forth to be able to open various pieces of software and work with in it,” she said.

The school also stresses internet safety, Mercado said.   Using the former military computers includes introducing the students to the idea of on line safety.  She said she tells the students that the internet connects all types of people from around the world.  “Because of that, they need to use caution and be responsible when they are on line,” she said.

Mercado expects to find more ways that her school’s retired military computers can make a difference.

“When we heard about the Disposition Services program,” Mercado said. “I mean it was just a complete blessing to us it was there is just no way otherwise we could have afforded this program at this school.”