A coding school founded in Silicon Valley is adding a Roslyn location this fall.
The Coder School is preparing to open its second Long Island location, owner Noreen Kazi said, offering weekly coding courses to students 7 through 18 years old at 17-21 Lumber Road in Roslyn.
Senior adviser Nisha Bhalla said when her son was about 4 years old, she began looking for programs for him to learn coding. Though she was familiar with coding, she did not feel she had the time or particular expertise to teach him the languages on her own.
“When we got this information this was already happening in Silicon Valley, it was a no-brainer — we need to have this here for our Long Island students,” Bhalla said. “A lot of programs now are online, so you’re doing it alone. That’s no fun. Here, you’re sitting with a teacher and when you’re frustrated, a teacher will help you through it.”
Bhalla said the teachers, also known as code coaches, must at least be upper level computer science majors in college, though some far exceed those qualifications, also serving as professors, startup owners and a Google engineer.
The school’s ratio is two students to each code coach, Kazi said, and the students are paired by age and skill level.
“You may start at Scratch, which is the most basic level, but we’ve had kids for about a year who have moved to Python,” Bhalla said. “That’s a very advanced programming language for an 8-year-old to learn, and you have to really understand coding to do that. If you don’t have that expertise, you can’t take it to the next level, and our code coaches are like mentors for our students — they develop a bond with them.”
Kazi said about 40 Roslyn-area students already attend the first Long Island location in Syosset and it was an easy decision to add another school in Roslyn.
Beyond teaching students how to code, Kazi said, the students can come in once a week to code and a second day a week to learn “soft skills,” like how to pitch an idea to a company and how to express ideas.
“When you look at working in the real world, you have lots of people with very similar skill sets and expertise, but the people who really do advance are the ones who can communicate what I do and convince the room that their way is the right way,” Bhalla said.
Kazi said the school has partnered with Girls Inc. and the Girl Scouts of Nassau County to help increase the number of women interested in coding from a younger age.
“One of our biggest goals is women empowerment within technology,” Bhalla said. “I think we’ve done a good job, but I definitely think there’s room for improvement. We’re seeing about 35 percent of our students are girls, and we want to see 50 to 60 percent.”
The Coder School will host a grand opening at 1 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Roslyn location.
Reach reporter Amelia Camurati by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 215, or follow her on Twitter @acamurati.