MCA Opens Remote Learning Centers at Columbus High School and Choctaw Tribal Schools

Techshare - Choctaw - Mississippi Coding Academies

Dr. Sarah Lee (University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi Coding Academies) and Choctaw Indian Princess Elisha Monique Jimmie were on hand to unveil the remote coding classroom for Choctaw Tribal Schools this week.

This past week, Mississippi Coding Academies (MCA) was thrilled to work with the Columbus Municipal School District (CMSD) and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) to open our first two remote classrooms for new coders under the TechShare program.

TechShare, made possible by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and support from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), connects coders in remote venues with our instructors in Jackson and Starkville. The TechShare campuses are designed to serve high school graduates in rural communities, helping them quickly gain skills for high-tech employment.

“We could not be more pleased to have USDA and ARC support for this exciting new initiative bringing 21st-century skills to our rural counties,” said Mike Forster, chairman of Mississippi Coding Academies. “This support provides the springboard for the Mississippi Coding Academies to expand its reach into smaller cities like Louisville, Choctaw, and Columbus.”

In Neshoba County, Choctaw Indian Princess Elisha Monique Jimmie cut the ribbon on the new remote classroom serving Choctaw Tribal Schools, with remarks by MCA Board Member Dr. Sarah Lee, Vice Chief Dorothy Wilson, MBCI Director of Administration Jason Grisham, MBCI Director of Schools Dr. Randy Grierson and MCA’s Ben Hubbard.

Dr. Grierson said he first learned about MCA at a meeting of the Louisville Rotary Club. Hearing about the program made him want to partner with MCA to give his high school students a pathway to good jobs after graduation, while implementing more computational thinking into the full K-12 curriculum.

Ben Hubbard, who directs MCA’s Starkville and TechShare campuses, said at the event: “Computers touch so many aspects of our daily lives. Having the ability to program one to perform a needed task is a necessary skill for the 21st century.”

“We are excited by the new partnership between the Mississippi Coding Academies and the Choctaw Tribal Schools,” said MBCI Director of Economic Development John Hendrix, after the event. “A young adult trained in computer coding will have a variety of promising career options when they enter the workforce. We are thrilled to make this available to our Tribal students.”

Techshare Columbus - Mississippi Coding Academies

From left: Jason Sparks (CMSD trustee), Telisa Young (CMSD trustee), Mike Forster (MCA board chairman), Dr. Jo Shumake (CMSD board), Dr. Sarah Lee (MCA board), Wilson Beck (Director of the Link), Jessika Hayes (CMSD coding facilitator), Dr. Cherie Labat (CMSD superintendent), Craig Chapman (Columbus High School principal), Ben Hubbard (MCA).

At the Columbus ribbon-cutting, Hubbard also spoke, followed by Dr. Cherie Labat, superintendent of Columbus Municipal School District.

“We appreciate being a part of the inaugural class of the TechShare pilot program that will provide Columbus High School students with coding training,” Dr. Labat said. “The Columbus Municipal School District has a long term relationship with the MS Coding Academies as they continue to innovate to meet the computational thinking needs of Mississippi.”

Also speaking at the event were Dr.  Lee and Jessika Hayes, the coding facilitator for CMSD. Hayes is a 2018 graduate of the Mississippi Coding Academies, now a full-time employee of CMSD, teaching introductory coding to students.

“We are delighted to deliver computer programming and cybersecurity education to students in Columbus and look forward to scaling this program throughout the state. We appreciate the USDA and ARC support that has made this program a reality,” Dr. Lee said.