WINDERMERE From cyber-security to job security, the reasons to pursue computer coding are increasing with the number of students taking computer science courses.
For Ashley Moore, a Windermere resident who has taught coding from her home, the primary factor was her child’s confidence.
“I came up with the idea in 2011 and actually started offering it for free,” she said. “My daughter, Abby, was actually the inspiration, and I really wanted to help her have the skills to be confident in herself and her abilities. When I was younger, I was bullied, and I wanted to really make sure my daughter knew she could get beyond it.”
Then Abby told some friends, and then they told some friends.
“Pretty soon my living room was full of girls, like 20 girls,” Ashley Moore said. “It was originally all free for about two-and-a-half years or so, offering classes two times a week.”
Classes have covered basic script and gotten as advanced as making videos and incorporating fun tools such as the popular Minecraft video game, she said.
“We build things, so we teach them to be makers, not just coders,” she said. “Coders are creators. All the kids, it's a matter of having a hidden superpower ... they can pull out whenever they need to. They're learning adult-level material … and we all learn from each other, so I’ll let them explain certain things when they master it or perfect it.”
Some are advanced enough that they could work in the field today, Ashley Moore said. But she wants to be sure her students to have a passion for entrepreneurship and realize life goes beyond hardware and software, just as she did when she began ascending a career ladder at age 19.
“I would say that really the whole premise is about exploration and discovery and ... seeing what you can do to bring it to life,” she said. “And we have a policy of no hacking, no bullying — they all sign an anti-bullying contract and (must) take the skill and use it to teach someone else. They need to understand to use this in the right way, and this creates a future for them.”
NEW SPACE FOR YOUNG AND OLD
About seven months ago, Ashley Moore moved the class to ScribbleSpace, the community office and meeting space in Summerport. She said it was an amazing opportunity to have such a facility in which she could teach, as opposed to running logistics through her home.
“I offered everything for free, and I just moved to a subscription model in August,” she said. “It was always my intention to start it as a non-profit.”
The cost is now about $75 a month per student, with an option of paying $125 per month to attend as many classes as desired, she said.
“I do classes Tuesdays and Thursdays right now,” Ashley Moore said. “Coming up, it's Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays … about nine classes a week. And we just expanded to Dr. Phillips; that's going to have classes in January. We also offer a lot of scholarships … It's never about money.”
Students must be at least 5 years old, but Ashley Moore said technology otherwise has no age barrier.
“You're never too young; you're never too old,” she said. “I want to be doing this when I'm over 100.”
In that spirit, she hopes to extend classes to adults — especially seniors who want to have a better understanding of how computer technologies work, she said.
With the help of her family and friends, especially her husband, Eric, Ashley Moore hopes to continue pursuing her passion of educating tomorrow’s coders — and herself — and helping others.
“The plan is to have the kids start entering competitions, and then we're also going to … donate our time to create websites for organizations that need it,” she said.
For more information, contact Ashley Moore at [email protected] or visit CodeTeachers.com
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].