After school hours for students from three local schools come alive with fun, interesting and productive activities at the new computer “Tech Center” at the Common Place at 58th Street and Chester Avenue. In this state-of-the-art facility, some 40 youngsters from Independence Charter West, Cornerstone Christian Academy, and Mitchell Elementary schools take their places at the keyboards and guided by Fatima Burke, begin to learn to plot computer codes and perform graphics exercises.
Those in the 3rd to 5th Grade group, for instance, type in their passwords and log on to the widely used “Kodable” program at their level. Moving their mouses with amazing dexterity, they use games to build their computer skills in a carefully developed system. By mastering the coding process, they learn what’s going on inside the computer as well as what they see on the screen.
“I know I’m learning how to concentrate better and solve problems,” reflected 6th grader Chase. “I like working with the graphics program and make things work.” The Uncommon Individual Foundation (UIF) provided TCP with a grant of $25,000.00 for the development of our Tech Room. “The very generous gift allowed us to build out the room and purchase all of the equipment,” advised Gene Burke who wears the hats of outreach and fundraising administration at TCP. “UIF indicates its mission is to educate people and organizations about the power of mentoring so they can effectively engage mentors as a means to achieve personal success, inspire change, and make a positive contribution to society.”
David Cook-Burke, a Southwest product, was instrumental in setting up the network cabling and installing the internet. David is a recent graduate of Orleans Technical College and has his Comp TIA A+ Certification.
Fatima Burke, now also a Southwest resident, acts as the instructor of the Coding and Web Development program at TCP has been teaching young children how to code for over 10 years. Her experience with coding and Wed Design and Development dates back 22 years and includes work with The University of Pennsylvania, Police Athletic League, The King Center, The Dove Awards, Capitol Records, Motown Gospel Records, and more. An MIT professor, Anne Spirn, took Fatima and another student under her
tutelage when she was 13 years old. Fatima is now one of the nation’s few sought after African-Americans in web development through her own company, www.8genci.com.
The Common Place Scholars at The Common Place participate in a wide variety of after school activities including instrumental and vocal music, nutrition and cooking, art and spiritual development in a caring and nurturing environment. The Common Place also offers Saturday morning enrichment that extends the weekday activities.
For more information on the wealth of youth and family programs at The Common Place, visit its website at www.thecommonplacephilly.org or phone 267-275-8238, ex 2.
Gene Burke of TCP graciously provided background for this article.