Daphna Jean Pierre was a student in the inaugural class of St. Francis School of Technology, located in Jeremie, Haiti — a school made possible by Tek4Kids, a nonprofit founded by Louisville’s Gary Boice.
In recounting her experience at the school, Pierre said:
“My teacher at St. Francis, Mrs. Rose Yumker, always told me ‘Daphna don’t be afraid of saying what you think and try to put your shyness away. Through the patience and dedication of my networking teacher, I ended up developing a feeling of well-being in networking. I now work for TIC. I haven’t stopped learning. I am proud that I made that choice. I am a young professional.”
The story of Tek4Kids
Gary Boice and his wife Cathy began volunteering with an independent, inner city school that provides underprivileged children with a high-quality education environment through small classes, advanced instruction methods, and personal tutoring. These experiences inspired them to work in other educational realms with humanitarian groups abroad culminating in their trip to Jeremie, Haiti, with the Louisville Cathedral of the Assumption.
Boice began St. Francis School of Technology with funds obtained after selling Boice.net, a technology services provider that offered IT planning, design and implementation to small and mid-size businesses and large commercial enterprises.
Michelle Boice, VP Business Development & Engagement at Tek4Kids, and the founders’ daughter, told Louisville Future about the program:
“Tek4Kids is a non-profit that’s been working in Jeremie, Haiti—a small farming town on the other side of the island from Port au Prince—that doesn’t get a lot of support. We rolled out smartboards and iPads to the elementary schools first. Then we found that there was a lot of interest in IT. To continue their technology education, those kids would have to go to Port au Prince, which is a very dangerous place to live.”
That’s when the group started a three-year technical college where students learn English, Microsoft certifications, Cisco certifications, etc. Part of the plan is to then get those students in the workforce. Most of the students go on to get jobs at Boice’s Technology Integrators Caribbean (TIC) company, based in New Albany, IN.
“We take students from grade school to a job that pays so we can help end the cycle of poverty. Their economy is not going to grow without some help. We’re hoping that technology is that bridge for them,” Michelle Boice said.
St. Francis school started in 2015. They started with 24 students, who are now graduated and working for a TIC company. They bring in a new batch of students every year, give them laptops, a 3-year curriculum and when they graduate they help them find jobs.
Pierre said that the application to the school was easy. “I submitted my entry. One click. So brief that I didn’t realize it was all about my future.”
While Boice has been doing most of the funding himself, with some coming from golf scrambles and other fundraising efforts, Tek4Kids is looking to increase its funding efforts.
“It’s a good story and these are good kids and we think a lot of people would be interested in helping them,” Boice said.