Bright Outlook Occupation: Accountant
June 26, 2017
South Hills Graduates 61 Students for Spring 2017
June 27, 2017

“I Am South Hills” – Guido Santella

Fast Facts About Guido Santella:
Q: Tell me what got you interested in the IT field.

Guido: I’ve been involved with technology since I was about eight-years-old. One Christmas, I found this marvelous device on the desk, and I was hooked instantly. It was an IBM PS/2, and I remember just sitting down at this thing, and it was the ultimate exploration. I could click everything. I could push buttons. I could tell it to do things, and it would actually listen to me, and it was quite fascinating. I would spend hours and hours and hours just trying to figure out how this thing worked. I remember discovering the computer code and learned how I could control the computer by changing the code. From that point on I was a programmer.

I did computer programming in high school, and I was thinking about being a math major or going into medicine. It was hard for me to go into technology because I always wanted to do something where I could help people. I always heard that computer programmers would just sit in a cubicle and program all day, and I didn’t know if I wanted to do that. Eventually, I decided to attend a four-year university, and majored in computer science, even though I also won a scholarship for music. (I play the piano.) I studied four years, did computer science including a lot of computer programming, and that’s where I really honed in on my craft, got good at it.

Q: What would you tell a student about the differences between what you teach students in the two-year Specialized Associate Degree in Information Technology at South Hills versus your four-year degree?

Guido: I teach very little of what I picked up during my time spent at the four-year university. Almost everything I teach is knowledge similar to what I gained working in the field: working with people, helping them with their technology, working with servers, working with websites, working with software, and making software better. There’s so much hands-on that I try to bring into my South Hills classroom that I never got as a student at the university.

Q: What would your students say about your teaching style?

Guido: I think my students would say as a teacher, I’m dynamic. I think they would say that I’m sometimes all over the place, but in the real world, I think that’s sometimes how things are. Whenever I teach a lesson, I’m not necessarily teaching a chapter out of a book. I want to share examples of what they may see it out there in the real world, and we get in there and figure out all of the problems that could happen and solve them one by one. My approach to presenting information and teaching is that technology has to be taught in a way where it’s broken down into the simple problems. My job as an educator is really just to present these simple problems, as simply as I can, have my students work with them in some type of real-world type scenario, and hopefully, that develops their “IT intuition.” They’re going to see problems that I’ve never seen. They’re going to solve problems that I’ve never solved. But if i give them this solid base knowledge of information technology, they’ll be able to go out there and do things that I just didn’t think possible. I feel like my big responsibility is to put my students in situations where they can learn by experiencing things themselves.

From the first moment that I walked into South Hills, I did feel this is a small school, and it is a caring school. I felt a sense of responsibility instantly that I was in charge of something special, that I was in charge of this group of students that were in my classroom. Every time I heard the school’s founders, the Mazzas, speak about why they started the school…I heard that they just wanted to help change people’s lives. I heard that crystal-clear. As a teacher, I’ve felt supported here at school and know I can teach the way that I think is best.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the importance of students developing not only the technical skills but also building “soft” skills?

Guido: In regards to developing soft skills, social skills, people skills, etc., it’s so critically important because even though we are the experts in technology, we have to find effective ways to interact with the people that are using that technology. Having good communication skills not only helps you at a job interview, but they’re also going to help you in your day-to-day life and career, just interacting with sponsors, interacting with your managers, interacting with your coworkers. And in technology, because these problems get complicated, we usually solve these problems in teams. Unless you can work well and effectively with these teams of people, you’re just selling yourself a little short.

Q: South Hills internships are unique. Describe the benefits from your perspective.

Guido: I would say the value of our internship program is the students get a gentle introduction to what it’s like to work in a technology job. For 12 weeks, they work with our internship supervisors helping them solve the problems that regular employees would help them solve. Some of my interns have worked doing database programming. Some of them have gone on to do full-time website development and web programming. I’ve also had interns join security teams.

Q: Talk about the things you do for fun.

Guido: I run and recently, I’ve been running marathons and ultra-marathons. I have a dog, and my Alaskan Malamute runs with me, which is fun. What else do I do for fun? I play piano, so I’m a musician. It’s probably one of my first loves. My father played a little bit, and we had a piano in the house. I studied piano through high school and college, and I also write music. I have one piano student, which is my niece. She’s ten-years-old. I see the same passion that I had when I was young, and I can just see this curiosity. I can see this enthusiasm. She looks up to me, and she’s like, “I want to try to play piano like he plays the piano.”

Q: When you get down to graduation, how does it feel to see your students walking across the stage?

Guido: Graduation is a great experience for me. I’ve spent two years with this group of students. I want them to go out and get a full-time job in technology. I hope they’ll take the time to say, “Hello,” every once in a while, but other than that, as long as they go out and they just work, they do well, they work hard, they continually learn, I know they’ll be fine.

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