by The Observer Staff | Feb 2, 2024 |
BY NICHOLAS YOUNGFOR THE OBSERVER
OPELIKA — A new generation of young professionals is being built up thanks to the efforts of the Grove Community Outreach.
The Grove Community Outreach, a non-profit organization, based in Elba, Alabama, aims to serve the needs of their community including crisis, financial, personal, and medical needs. The Community Outreach also strives to be a means to benefit students. In this instance, the outreach program has partnered with the Opelika Learning Center to host a coding class for students. The goal of the class was to expose the students to the concept of coding and potentially uncover a passion.
The session of classes was led by Lamar Goosby and Tamala Mashburn, co-founders of People2work LLC, a digital platform designed to connect users in need of a service with others who can complete the job. Goosby’s sons Aaron and Greggory also served as teachers for the coding workshop. The classes were held on Jan. 20 and 27, focusing on giving students an introduction to coding.
The class on Jan. 27 was led by Aaron and was centered around teaching the students how to apply coding to a video game. Following a brief PowerPoint presentation that outlined the concepts that would be covered in the class, students had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience. Through experimentation of various codes, students gained insight into the process of game development. As they progressed, the other teachers provided the young learners with advice and practical implications about the coding process.
The session closed out with a competition. Students raced against one another to apply what they learned throughout the class to complete a series of challenges, with the winner receiving an Amazon gift card. Though there was a competition for a large prize, all students present received certificates and a reward for their efforts in the class. The process of making the class a reality was successful thanks to a lot of contributions from various professionals.Lamar noted that while he and the other teachers led the classroom, he credited Dr. Paige Jones, Director of Grove Community Outreach, for making the learning experience possible. Lamar said, “She pulled me in to be able to do this…So I pulled people in that I knew would fulfill her vision…We were just on the same mindset.
”Paige said that helping educate the community and preparing children for a digital work-force was one of the main goals of the coding workshops. Paige expressed the importance of bringing in professionals such as Lamar, Tamala, Aaron, and Greggory stating, “Who is better able to teach these kids?” In terms of practical expectations of the workshop’s impact on students, Paige said “We’re bringing industry into the schools, so that they (students) not only do they have an academic exposure, but they also know some of the industry-specific needs right now, so that they can be better prepared to pursue pathways that will get them into the workforce”.
Chase, a student, personally attested to the impact of the workshops stating, “I never knew much about coding and being introduced to that and to view it as an option for the future, especially with how well that pays and how much of a passion I have for computer related stuff, it’s really mind opening how much of any opportunity I have in that career field.”
Paige hopes to expand the workshops to cover a broader area of potential student interest stating, “I like the idea of workshops within the school to bring in industry partners and work together with the school system to present career options to students”. Paige noted that she hopes to add workshops focused on the areas of STEM in the future. The impact of workshops goes beyond preparing students for a specific career, according to Paige students can gain transferrable skills such as communication and presentation. Through broadening workshops, Paige believes students will get an overall skill set adding that “no matter what career they choose, they’ll be prepared for it.”
The Community Outreach’s efforts to provide the youth with learning resources go beyond hosting workshops for the students. In the past, the organization has provided students with electronic resources such as iPads and laptops. Grove Community Outreach has also sent two students on a fully funded trip to a University of Georgia STEM camp. Patty Fair, a representative for Community Outreach states that one of the organization’s biggest goals is to provide mentorship for students and expose them to a variety of potential career opportunities.
The Grove Community Outreach usually hosts events such as this one for Southeast Alabama schools. Representatives of the Outreach specifically mentioned that the efforts of Jeremey Gray, founder of Curtis House, a non-profit organization made this event possible. Gray and Tamarcus Milner Opelika Learning Center’s assistant principal attended high school together. Tamarcus also currently serves as the president of the Curtis House. This connection opened the door for Grove Community Outreach to expand its influence into the Opelika area.For more information about The Grove Community Outreach visit www.groveoutreach.org.