Holly Yacoumakis is MSV's Digital Literacy Coordinator.
Walk into the computer lab at MSV's Foglia Center any day of the week and you'll likely find Holly Yacoumakis leading a class. She might be standing at the front going through how to save a file and attach it to an email, or helping a student individually navigate to a certain website. Holly is the Digital Literacy Coordinator at Marillac St. Vincent Family Services and teaches digital skills to kindergartners, seniors, and everyone in between who walks through our doors.
Holly started with MSV a few years ago as an AmeriCorps member in our Youth Services and Community Outreach Services departments. Since then, she has taken over programming and educational instruction in our computer lab at the Foglia Center as full-time staff member.
Today is Digital Learning Day, a holiday whose message resonates with Holly and closely aligns with the mission of MSV. Started in 2012, DLD defines digital learning as "any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student's learning experience. It emphasizes high-quality instruction and provides access to challenging content...to ensure all students reach their full potential to succeed in college and a career." Every day, Holly's work in the computer lab does just that, providing a better education to our youth and seniors through the use of modern technology.
In the early afternoon at MSV, Holly leads classes for adults and later in the day, children from our Hope Jr. Program work on the computers. Her techniques when managing these diverse populations varies, she said. "People my age and younger have been interacting with screens our entire lives. We tend to take certain digital skills for granted. An adult who is still learning wants to know which side of the mouse they should click with: Is it a left click, a right click, do you press both buttons? Adults feel a real sense of pride when they master a new skill."
When she's working with children, Holly has to come up with new ways to engage these tech-savvy learners. "I’ve noticed that kids are very good at using computers when it comes to playing games, watching videos, or finding basic information (often unreliable). I have to encourage kids to challenge themselves. They love being the first to know a trick their peers don’t know. I take advantage of that. It’s really amazing to see them teach each other." She said.
Holly has seen how mastering technology can change a person's life, and that it happens in small ways every day in her classes. "One of my students now volunteers to create documents for her church. She shows her friends and family members how to Google information and how to send emails. I know I’ve changed someone’s life when they realize they don’t need me there when they use a computer."
It seems that these days, digital skills are almost required for living. Whether you're a student who needs to write and submit an assignment or an adult attempting to access and pay your bills online, it's more important than ever to know how to use a computer. Holly understands these basic needs, but also how learning digital skills can bring joy and confidence to her students and that knowledge can bring people together. "They want to take what they learn and share it. That’s how the community grows through digital literacy."
Thank you Holly, for bringing new ideas to the clients we serve. MSV is lucky to have someone so dedicated to helping her students thrive!
For more information about Marillac's computer lab, please call Holly at (773) 584-4540.
If you would like to volunteer in the computer lab or have an idea for a workshop you could teach, please fill out the volunteer form and write "Computer Lab" under which opportunity you are most interested in.