Pre-Teen Schools Those in Need of IT Support

12-year-old has served as his schools’ unofficial tech guru since the third grade.

Zack Pakin Pre-Teen IT Support Whiz

Zack Pakin, 12, has been the go-to IT support guy for faculty at two Brentwood, Calif. schools since the third grade.

IT support people generally don’t work for candy and ice cream, but then again, they usually don’t start fixing computers and building websites starting at age 8, much less jailbreaking an iPhone or adding a start button to Windows 8 before they finish middle school.

Zack Pakin, now 12, lives and breathes technology. Ask the self-admitted geek what he’d do if technology didn’t exist and he responds in a nanosecond with, “die.” The kid won’t even allow himself a normal summer. This year, the digital native is spending some of his break developing a workshop — called “Classroom of the Future” — that he will lead for the 19th annual Kids to Work Day at the Intel campus in Folsom, Calif. Students as old as 18 are signed up for the class, but Zack says he isn’t nervous. He’s been mentoring adults since the third grade, after all.

“At Pioneer Elementary School I offered my services to teachers I knew and I built websites and set up blogs for them,” said Zack, who will start seventh grade this fall at Bristow Middle School in Brentwood, Calif. “I didn’t like that you couldn’t link to other Web pages from their teacher sites, so I wanted to help give them something better.”

Zack refused to be paid for providing IT support, but gladly accepted candy, brownies and ice cream sundaes. Another thing he got was in trouble.

“The school district didn’t like what we did and they eventually shut us down,” he said. “The teachers were bummed and so was I.”

Zack Pakin helping teacher with IT support

Zack Pakin, unofficial tech support person at Bristow Middle School in Brentwood, Calif., shows off his IT support skills to Heather Jeffrey, who will be the seventh grader's computer teacher starting in the fall. Photo: Dawn Pakin

Zack still provides IT support to teachers and administration, but stays clear of violating district policy by helping out with less cyber-intrusive troubleshooting, printer installation and software support.

“He bounces from classroom to classroom, and he loves it,” said Zack’s mom, Dawn. “He’s always been comfortable with computers, ever since we got him a V-Smile when he was 3.”

Zack has since moved on from that educational gaming system. Along with an iPhone 5, he has four computers, an iPad, and an Intel NUC, as well as access to PlayStation, Xbox and Wii systems and the family’s new Windows 8 system, which he modified.

“I wanted to put the start button back on Windows 8 by going into the registry and then for fun I did it another way on my laptop using Stardock software,” he said. “I didn’t like Windows 8 as it came out because it used to be much easier getting files using just a regular ‘start’ menu. I don’t know why they made things so hard.”

Zack reminisced over experiences with simpler Microsoft software, like when his second-grade teacher accepted his offer to teach a lesson on PowerPoint. “I got huge applause from my fellow classmates after I was done,” Zack said. “They were blown away.”

Zack said he enjoys helping out the less tech-savvy beyond the classroom as well. Sometimes his IT support is unsolicited, such as at a couple of computer stores.

Zack Pakin provides IT support at his school

Zack Pakin, 12, will lead a workshop at Kids to Work Day at Intel. He will be the first child outside an Intel family to do so in the 19-year history of the event at the Folsom, Calif. site.

“I had jailbroken my iPhone and it wasn’t booting properly,” Zack recalled. “I learned how to fix it without having to reset the whole phone by watching a YouTube video, but I wanted to hear what they’d say at the Apple Store without telling them I jailbroke the phone. The guy at the Genius Bar said I’d need to reset the phone which would make me lose all my data. I told him I knew another way. I showed him that you can put it in recovery mode and then take it out of recovery mode without losing any of your data.”

Another time, Zack enlightened a Best Buy sales associate on the ability to boot a computer using USB 2.0. “He didn’t know that it’s easy to do on newer computers,” Zack said.

If being a smarty-pants didn’t burn bridges, Zack said he’d like his first part-time job to be in the Geek Squad department at the same Best Buy store. Until he’s old enough to work there, Mom and Dad would like to see their son enrolled in computer classes as early as next year at the local junior college. Zack’s master plan is to major in computer science at a four-year college, not surprisingly, and then rise up the ranks to be in position for his ultimate dream job: “I want to be CEO of Intel,” he said. He then paused, looked upward, touched his chin with his thumb and finished his thought. “Or CEO of Microsoft or Apple,” he clarified, realizing the importance of keeping one’s options open.

Pre-Teen Schools Those in Need of IT Support

12-year-old has served as his schools’ unofficial tech guru since the third grade.

Zack Pakin Pre-Teen IT Support Whiz

Zack Pakin, 12, has been the go-to IT support guy for faculty at two Brentwood, Calif. schools since the third grade.

IT support people generally don’t work for candy and ice cream, but then again, they usually don’t start fixing computers and building websites starting at age 8, much less jailbreaking an iPhone or adding a start button to Windows 8 before they finish middle school.

Zack Pakin, now 12, lives and breathes technology. Ask the self-admitted geek what he’d do if technology didn’t exist and he responds in a nanosecond with, “die.” The kid won’t even allow himself a normal summer. This year, the digital native is spending some of his break developing a workshop — called “Classroom of the Future” — that he will lead for the 19th annual Kids to Work Day at the Intel campus in Folsom, Calif. Students as old as 18 are signed up for the class, but Zack says he isn’t nervous. He’s been mentoring adults since the third grade, after all.

“At Pioneer Elementary School I offered my services to teachers I knew and I built websites and set up blogs for them,” said Zack, who will start seventh grade this fall at Bristow Middle School in Brentwood, Calif. “I didn’t like that you couldn’t link to other Web pages from their teacher sites, so I wanted to help give them something better.”

Zack refused to be paid for providing IT support, but gladly accepted candy, brownies and ice cream sundaes. Another thing he got was in trouble.

“The school district didn’t like what we did and they eventually shut us down,” he said. “The teachers were bummed and so was I.”

Zack Pakin helping teacher with IT support

Zack Pakin, unofficial tech support person at Bristow Middle School in Brentwood, Calif., shows off his IT support skills to Heather Jeffrey, who will be the seventh grader's computer teacher starting in the fall. Photo: Dawn Pakin

Zack still provides IT support to teachers and administration, but stays clear of violating district policy by helping out with less cyber-intrusive troubleshooting, printer installation and software support.

“He bounces from classroom to classroom, and he loves it,” said Zack’s mom, Dawn. “He’s always been comfortable with computers, ever since we got him a V-Smile when he was 3.”

Zack has since moved on from that educational gaming system. Along with an iPhone 5, he has four computers, an iPad, and an Intel NUC, as well as access to PlayStation, Xbox and Wii systems and the family’s new Windows 8 system, which he modified.

“I wanted to put the start button back on Windows 8 by going into the registry and then for fun I did it another way on my laptop using Stardock software,” he said. “I didn’t like Windows 8 as it came out because it used to be much easier getting files using just a regular ‘start’ menu. I don’t know why they made things so hard.”

Zack reminisced over experiences with simpler Microsoft software, like when his second-grade teacher accepted his offer to teach a lesson on PowerPoint. “I got huge applause from my fellow classmates after I was done,” Zack said. “They were blown away.”

Zack said he enjoys helping out the less tech-savvy beyond the classroom as well. Sometimes his IT support is unsolicited, such as at a couple of computer stores.

Zack Pakin provides IT support at his school

Zack Pakin, 12, will lead a workshop at Kids to Work Day at Intel. He will be the first child outside an Intel family to do so in the 19-year history of the event at the Folsom, Calif. site.

“I had jailbroken my iPhone and it wasn’t booting properly,” Zack recalled. “I learned how to fix it without having to reset the whole phone by watching a YouTube video, but I wanted to hear what they’d say at the Apple Store without telling them I jailbroke the phone. The guy at the Genius Bar said I’d need to reset the phone which would make me lose all my data. I told him I knew another way. I showed him that you can put it in recovery mode and then take it out of recovery mode without losing any of your data.”

Another time, Zack enlightened a Best Buy sales associate on the ability to boot a computer using USB 2.0. “He didn’t know that it’s easy to do on newer computers,” Zack said.

If being a smarty-pants didn’t burn bridges, Zack said he’d like his first part-time job to be in the Geek Squad department at the same Best Buy store. Until he’s old enough to work there, Mom and Dad would like to see their son enrolled in computer classes as early as next year at the local junior college. Zack’s master plan is to major in computer science at a four-year college, not surprisingly, and then rise up the ranks to be in position for his ultimate dream job: “I want to be CEO of Intel,” he said. He then paused, looked upward, touched his chin with his thumb and finished his thought. “Or CEO of Microsoft or Apple,” he clarified, realizing the importance of keeping one’s options open.