Atlanta Journal Constitution
Monday, May 23, 2016
Elementary school students in Kingsport, Tenn., will soon have a chance to learn computer coding, thanks to the vision of an Atlanta company.
“Every schoolchild needs to learn computer coding as much as he or she needs to learn English,” says Ari Ioannides, president of Emerald Data Solutions. His company backed up that belief to the tune of at least a million dollars, sponsoring a nationwide contest among school districts.
The winner, Kingsport City Schools, will receive a computer science curriculum to teach coding, plus an instructor, Grant Smith, to help train teachers to use it. Emerald Data hired Smith after learning of his work in an Arizona school district where all students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, a measure of poverty. He began teaching coding to primary school students, then implemented coding classes for all 5,600 elementary students there. In Kingsport, in northeastern Tennessee, the coding effort will focus particularly on schools with extreme poverty.
“Our goal,” said Ioannides, “is that all elementary school students in the United States will learn coding, and we’re providing the resources to get that done. In an age-appropriate manner, we will show them the building blocks.” Emerald Data Solutions plans to make the curriculum it developed available to any school system for free.
Carrie Upshaw, Kingsport Board of Education President, said, “I recently returned from the National School Board Association’s Annual Conference, where I attended several sessions on the importance of coding and was eager to share the fantastic coding initiative program I’d discovered there. Imagine my surprise and excitement when I found out we had been selected to be a part of that very program.”