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The business started by Sherry Haney trains groups and individuals on computers

by Kris Ann Hegle

SBJ Contributing Writer

Sherry Haney calls herself the Computer Goddess. Indeed, her love of computers is evident. Her top-of-the-line computer system is filled with software programs she has mastered, and her desk is covered with computer training materials she has developed.

In only a few years, Haney has gone from a computer novice to the founder and president of Pin Oak Computer Assistance & Training Inc. Pin Oak provides adults with computer training and assists area businesses with their computer projects.

Before founding Pin Oak, Haney worked a variety of different jobs from copy girl to merchandising coordinator. Whenever someone had a problem with a computer program, Haney said she could figure out the solution with little effort. She discovered she had a natural aptitude and interest for computing. Eventually that interest led her to start Pin Oak.

A growth industry, computer training is in demand and so are Haney's services. In 1997, she installed a second phone line in her home and began to respond to requests for individual instruction. Within months she rented 600 square feet of office space, bought six additional computers and began teaching small groups.

By March 1998, Pin Oak needed a larger training facility, and Haney moved operations to a bigger office on East Sunshine. She hired her daughter-in-law, Shelli Albright nicknamed the PC Princess added six more student computers and hired three part-time instructors.

Most of the classes at Pin Oak teach basic computer skills. Other classes focus on mastering particular software programs, such as Microsoft Word, Excel or QuickBooks. Classes on how to navigate the Internet, send and receive e-mail or set up your own home page on the World Wide Web are also offered.

In addition to providing individual and group instruction, Pin Oak provides computer support for area businesses. Haney said many Springfield companies use Pin Oak for desktop publishing projects, Web page design, slide-show presentations and database development. Other businesses call on Haney to provide onsite computer training for their employees.

According to Haney, Pin Oak provides many training options. Classes are held 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and training sessions are formed after three or more people indicate an interest in a particular class.

"The biggest thing we do here is give our students confidence," Haney said. "The maximum number of students we have in a class is eight. That way you get more individualized attention. We go slow, we give very detailed instructions, and we don't use a lot of computer jargon. All of our instruction is hands-on."

According to Haney, students who don't feel as if they have mastered the skills covered in a particular class are allowed to repeat it. Haney also limits each class session to two hours so students don't feel overwhelmed.

"Some companies will send their people to an all-day training session," Haney said. "That's great for the company, because the person is only out for a day, but the employee doesn't learn as much. I limit my training classes to two hours and run three to four sessions. Students retain much more information that way."

While many of Pin Oak's students come from area businesses, the training center appeals to people with a wide variety of needs and skill levels. Take Suzie Olson, for example. Olson, who works with Penmac Personnel, came to Pin Oak to brush up on her computer skills. Local business owner Kathy Martyr came to Pin Oak to learn Windows, a personal computer operating system. Then there's Jo Hoeft, a grandmother, who wanted to learn how to buy and sell stocks over the Internet using her laptop computer.

"I love it," Hoeft said. "Now when my grandson talks about his computer, I understand everything he's saying."

Pin Oak Computer Assistance & Training Inc.:

Business philosophy: "I want my students to feel like they've gotten more than their money's worth."

Year Founded: 1997

Address and phone number: 2003 E. Sunshine, Ste. G 65804; 886-6666.


Owner's name: Pin Oak Computer Assistance & Training Inc.


The self-styled Computer Goddess Sherry Haney individualizes instruction for computer users at her business.


Sherry Haney calls herself the Computer Goddess an apt sobriquet for the owner of a computer training business. Kris Ann Hegle's story about the Springfield businesswoman and her way of teaching computer skills appears on page 10.[[In-content Ad]]


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