When it comes to computers, Charlie Hane, 21, is the go-to guy at Greene County High School in Jefferson.
He interacts with nearly every student at the high school as the computer lab monitor. However, his job doesn’t give justice to what he means to the school district and the students. Hane not only helps students and teachers with programs and computer glitches, he inspires them as well.
Students like Megan Walsh are inspired by Hane.
“Even though he had a bad accident, what he does now makes me feel like you can go on, no matter what and everything will be OK,” she says.
The story of Hane at the high school could start three years ago when he began volunteering in the computer lab. However, the best place to begin is the end of the summer in Spirit Lake, when a fall off a dock into shallow water left him paralyzed just before entering his senior year of high school.
“At first I was almost completely paralyzed, upper and lower body. But, gradually, movement came back in my upper body,” Hane says.
Over the next few years, he went through spinal surgery and extensive rehabilitation in Colorado. He then attended two years of college, but figured out that wasn’t the place for him. He came back home to Jefferson, and, after his mother heard about a volunteering opportunity at the high school, spent one year volunteering in the computer lab.
“I was a little apprehensive about how students would react to my wheelchair, but the students seemed to be all right with it,” he says.
He did so well, the part-time volunteer gig moved to a full-time job after Hane worked through vocational rehabilitation to learn how to drive, and was assisted in getting a modified van to drive back and forth to work.
He hasn’t looked back.
“It is nice to know I am making a difference in their lives, at least a little bit,” Charlie says of the students.
His days are not only filed with answering student’s questions, but also scheduling computer time. That means finding open computers for a class when the computer lab might be full. He often moves around the room, assisting students and making sure they are on task.