Fancy Bryant spent 19 years at Intel in software and hardware engineering. When provided the opportunity to participate in an Encore Fellowship upon retiring from Intel, he knew which organization to join. He had been involved in the Ile Omode School for over 20 years, as his daughter had attended the school. The school, located in Oakland, CA, is African-centered and combines education, cultural enlightenment and awareness.
I became the technical specialist. The Director runs the school, teaches, acts as IT coordinator and [wears] so many other hats. My goal was to help him out. Specifically, I wanted to bring in technology to make the students better learners, work with teachers and parents to find funding, as they didn’t have the technology knowledge or connections, and I knew companies to reach out to for donations, and work on improving the network and security. I did everything, from creating user accounts and installing operating systems to setting up new computers, and resolving other issues. I worked with the committee of parent volunteers who were seeking grants and funds for scholarships, and I looked for money geared to new purchases of technology or refurbished PCs. As a private school, it can be challenging; we always need more. Some of our computers were pretty old; an upgrade made a difference. I generated $25,000 for the purchase of new laptops for the middle schools and found companies to donate laptops.
A new area for me was working with the teachers and being around students. I was able to do some training for teachers — they needed to get up to speed on using software for certain areas, they had a network, projectors connected to it but needed training on Google docs and office productivity. I had not done training with teachers before, it was new and different for me. Another new area was being around the students. I was in the classroom helping out, trouble-shooting. It was gratifying to get feedback from the teachers and students, to help them out. Some of my projects at Intel took two years. At the school, I could get immediate gratification from the Director, teachers and students.
I intend to keep working in the classroom. I am so grateful that the Encore Fellowship allowed me the opportunity to be in this environment. It gave me the fire again… I was kind of burned out.. I had been in the trenches so long, it was hard to get my mind wrapped around using my skills in a different way. I had volunteered, I knew computers in and out, but I didn’t think about how else I could use my skills. The Fellowship gave me a transition. If I had just walked away, it would have been a different experience. This gave me a new avenue to choose my next step. Some of the people I met through the school at the Oakland Unified School District gave me information on a career technical education credential in STEM, so I would like to go through the program and become a STEM instructor.
I now have a new perspective on trying to educate children of color as it relates to STEM. There is a divide, and we must impart skills to these kids to understand they need a good work ethic, they need to be good at what they do to get a job in technology, the career of the future. I am going to do my part to help them grow and be better people. We are focused on giving them math skills, technology and coding and everyday life skills. Working at the school took me back full circle. I met the Director when my daughter was a student there. He was from Intel and introduced me to Intel. Now I came back to work for him and found my next opportunity helping the kids in my community to prepare for jobs in technology.