By: Kenn Pascascio, Community Outreach Manager and Instructor at Eleven Fifty Academy
This past week I had the pleasure to kick off an initiative called TEKY (Techhire Eastern Kentucky) that runs through Interapt, a technology development firm born and bred in Kentucky. Eleven Fifty Academy is lucky to be a part of this initiative by providing the curriculum.
Where exactly is this initiative? Paintsville, Kentucky! Haven’t heard of it? It’s a quaint town on the east side of Kentucky. A town that surrounds itself by gigantic mountains, so big the sun itself has to climb them each morning.
My first morning waking up in Paintsville, a thick fog rested on the town and it was quiet. Not all at in the eerie sense, rather in a calming peacefulness. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into, I felt the slight anxiousness that a person feels before trying something new. I was nervous but excited! That I would have a hand in changing the narrative for this incoming class. That I could teach a few Kentucky-ians a pragmatic way of thinking. I was prepped before teaching the students, with phrases like “The people here aren’t like who you teach in Indiana.” But here’s the kicker, I felt the same as I always do before I teach any class, and this time is no different. I was going to treat these students no different.
My boss, John Qualls, summed up the TEKY students perfectly when he recanted the aftermath of his week there: “my hand hurts from all the hand shaking.” And I have now witnessed this first hand, pun intended. There is such a gratitude that resides within the students that I don’t see day to day, and that speaks volumes.
If I could describe my time in Kentucky using a common generic phrase, I would use “time moves fast when you’re having fun.” If I had to sum up the students I would say; they’re smart, they work and study like there’s no tomorrow, they’re resilient, and they will surprise you. And if you asked me to sum up my experience, I’d say it was an opportunity of a lifetime.
Eleven Fifty Academy’s influence goes beyond the borders of the State of Indiana. We are proud to be a part of this incredible initiative and continue to look for ways to be able to help close the nation’s technology skills gap while creating a coding ecosystem that benefits an individual, one’s employer and one’s community.