Tegeler Computer Refurbishment Store a Win-Win for Community, Students; Online Store Now Open
Pasadena ISD’s Tegeler Career Center partnered with Microsoft as a registered refurbisher to pioneer the first ever student-run refurbishment technology program in the nation – appropriately called Trailblazer Computers.
Through this innovative program, students refurbish computers that have been recycled by Pasadena ISD campuses and offer them for sale to the community at a low cost through their online store.
The program offers on-the-job cooperative business and technology training for Tegeler students in a safe and educational environment. Students receive real-world experience in small business operations, management, advertising, customer service and marketing, with the technology component serving as a secondary part to their business pathway.
“The proceeds are going to be used for reinvesting back into the program and to cover student wages as part of their educational development,” Michael Kaatz, Tegeler Technology Facilitator said. “This includes funding to help pay for student certifications and trainings.”
The vision for Trailblazer Computers began a little over a year ago and developed in March after district leaders gave the school the greenlight to start the program.
“Jean Cain [Tegeler principal], Dr. Rhonda Parmer [associate superintendent], Arthur Allen [CTO] and Michael Rodriguez [asst. technical director] have been very supportive in helping us create this unique learning environment,” Kaatz said. “Bruce Layton and I are the two main supervisors running the program. Bruce does all the computer programming and trains the students.”
Kaatz, who has been at the forefront of the project, said the program coincides with Tegeler’s mission, helping students prepare for the workplace after graduation.
“Tegeler is an alternative campus by choice,” Kaatz said. “Our students are career bound, not necessarily college bound. We wanted to get the career back into our program. We have different paths that students can take, but this particular path is going to morph into our business pathway.”
Trailblazer Computers is a win-win for students, families and the local community, providing underserved families with access to computers at a fraction of the cost of a new computer. The cost to purchase items starts as lows as $70 and increase to the low hundreds.
Anyone may purchase an item through Trailblazer Computers, but customers who are part of a government subsidized program, including free-reduced lunch or a government assistance program will receive special pricing.
“As educators, we know that if there is a computer in the household, student performance increases,” Kaatz said. “Parents can also use computers to develop their skills, communicate, apply for jobs, be aware of what’s going on out there besides relying on what they see on TV. This program provides them with another avenue to help them be successful from the comfort of their homes.”
The store serves individuals, local businesses, schools and non-profit organizations. Once customers have browsed the store and selected an item, the school receives an invoice. Next, students refurbish the item. Within 24 hours, their computer is ready for pick up at the school.
Pasadena ISD, which recycles roughly 3,500 computer per year to keep up with the ever-evolving technology world, sends gently used computers to the district’s warehouse for recycling. In the past, a company would purchase the recycled computers based on the weight of the pallets where the computers were being housed.
“We would only get about $20 for the computers, whereas, we could take a whole pallet of computers through this refurbishment program and make a profit of $4,500 to $5,000,” Kaatz said. “So we took the company out of the equation.”
Trailblazer Computers is a green way to recycle.
“There’s a lot of hazardous materials in a computer so we tried to refurbish them,” Kaatz said. “The more we can refurbish ourselves, the less likely it will end up in a landfill. The more we can recycle, it’s better for the environment as a whole and for the community.”
The refurbishment program has three phases. The next phase is for the business to collaborate with district Technology Services to provide tech support for Wi-Fi users in Pasadena ISD.
Tegeler’s Trailblazer Computer business representatives are hopeful that in the near future, they can expand their reach to include other school districts.
“We want to see if we can take their old technology and put it into our program as well,” Kaatz said.
Please visit trailblazercomputers.com for more information and to shop through the online store.