Fostering Computer Literacy in Gresham
by Donna Childs
Dedication, respect, collegiality, enthusiasm, fulfillment - these are the words that came to mind after meeting Richard Pyne, the volunteer computer instructor at Gresham Library. Dick is a tech-savvy retired electrical engineer who values being useful. He teaches computer classes specially designed for older adults and brought to the library through a partnership with OASIS, a national organization devoted to lifelong learning for adults over 50. Dick teaches twice a week in a lovely media-filled room dedicated to that purpose. On the first day, his “Meet the Computer” students spend their two-hour sessions focusing on basics, from turning on the computer to email. Many have been given computers by children or grandchildren and want to use email with their family. On the second day, his more advanced students focus on becoming proficient in Microsoft Office programs—Word, Excel, PowerPoint--often working on resumes or other career-related tasks. Dick is a popular teacher, and many of his basic students move on to the more advanced class. He spends many hours outside the classes preparing material and setting up the computers for the students.
In addition to a varied career in both the engineering and business sides of his field, Dick has volunteered as a GED teacher, a cooking instructor, and at OMSI. His heart is with OMSI and the library. In addition to respecting the missions of both organizations, he feels valued as a colleague by staff at both places, feeling that he and the staff are working together to help the public.
Thanks to his dedication and competence, at OMSI he has worked his way up from greeter, to Speaker’s Bureau, to being a one-man outreach department, traveling to more than 30 neighborhood events to talk about OMSI. Likewise, at the library he has worked his way up from shelving, to some computer training at Rockwood to his present position as instructor at Gresham. "I’d be happy to stay here forever," he said. It sounds like everyone would benefit from that.
A Few Facts About Dick
Home library: Gresham Library
Currently reading: I often read multiple books at once; for instance, recently I was reading a tech manual and Phantom of the Opera. I often read non-fiction, but also occasionally a fiction writer such as Dan Brown.
Most influential book: Definitely the management book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.
Favorite book from childhood: Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders about a badly abused dog, though it had a happy ending! I read and reread it for several years.
A book that made you laugh or cry: I don’t know. I think I read too many serious books.
Favorite section of the library: The tech section, though I like to roam all the library aisles and see what I find.
E-reader or paper book? Despite being a techie, I prefer paper books.
Favorite reading guilty pleasure: Books I enjoy, even though I know they have no real literary merit. I am still working to convince myself that it really is OK to just read to relax in a sort of mindless way.
Favorite place to read: In the family room with music. In addition to reading, our entertainment often includes Great Courses DVD’s. I haven’t watched TV in 20 years. I get news on the internet.