Silicon Valley By Way Of Syosset

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Coding School opens on Ira Road, teaches technology and teamwork

Owner/general manager Noreen Kazi and senior advisor Nisha Bhalla of Syosset’s The Coder School (Photos by Dave Gil de Rubio)

If Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Muhammad Yunus is to be believed, what we do with technology matters far more than how important it is. It’s a mindset that owner/general manager Noreen Kazi and senior advisor Nisha Bhalla have whole-heartedly embraced while opening The Coder School in Syosset. Located at 45 Ira Rd., this location is an extension of the Silicon Valley-based parent company whose mission statement since its 2014 founding revolves around “combining collaboration and immersion with direct instruction by Code Coaches to get kids learning to code and rockin’ their inner hacker in no time.” Having officially opened on Monday, Oct. 23, the Syosset Coder School already has more than 100 students signed up. In it becoming the second East Coast franchise (the first being in the Boston suburb of Natick), sisters-in-law Kazi and Bhalla are excited about the potential for this business ever since going to the West Coast to visit the Coder School home office.

“We thought about different things to do as a business but when this came our way, we knew it was the right fit. We were looking for something like this for our kids and the more we heard about this program, the more excited we got,” Kazi explained. “We wanted to bring it here, especially after we went to the West Coast to Silicon Valley and saw what they were doing. The whole environment and the excitement around technology was something we thought we should have here [on Long Island].”

Bhalla added, “You do have some coding programs on Long Island, but what’s interesting about this one is that there is a really unique intersection between technology, product development and leadership skills. We’re not only teaching people how to code, but we’re teaching them how to take something, break it down into simple pieces and then explain that to an audience and be able to communicate that, which is a skill that will serve you well no matter what you do.”

Legislator Arnold Drucker (far left) along with Syosset-Woodbury Chamber of Commerce President Charo Ezdrin awarding a citation to Noreen Kazi (second from right) and Nisha Bhalla (right) during the ribbon-cutting for Syosset’s The Coder School

While the curriculum for incoming students is customized to fit each potential attendee’s technological skill set, the three main programs offered are an introductory class of six to eight students between the ages of 6 and 10. The core program is a two-to-one set-up, wherein two students are teamed with one Code Coach for one-to-one instruction. The third has the student come in twice a week, one day for coding with a coach and a fellow student before coming in for a second day, where they can work on presentation skills for the project they are working on. All students will eventually take part in a coder fair, where they will present the projects they’ve made to the community and their parents. Set up as an after-school program, the Coder School is open Monday, Wednesday through Friday, 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Classes are set up on a monthly basis and scheduling is flexible with the idea being that this whole process should be both student- and parent-friendly. And while learning the nuts and bolts of coding is paramount in this setting, Kazi and Bhalla stress the other intangibles students pick up in this particular educational setting.

“The way the world is going, the jobs of the future are going to be the ones that require significant communication skills and the ability to present. Everything else that doesn’t require that, is probably going to be automated in some way, shape or form. So you’re going to be required to have that skill set,” Bhalla said. “I see it every day where I worked with students back in my business school days that didn’t have those skills and didn’t have that ability. They could have been the smartest people in the world who got 1600s on their SATs, but they didn’t have those communication skills. You just don’t go as far. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. It can mean the difference between becoming an information officer or staying a developer.”

Kazi added, “That’s why the other program that we have has kids come in for an extra hour so they can work on their presentation and speaking skills while working in a group setting. These are all things you’re going to need no matter what career you’re going to be in.”

Kids will also get exposure to job possibilities thanks to a scheduled speaker series that will double as a monthly networking event featuring CEOs and COOs of various startups in the New York area who will come and provide their perspectives on how technology is rapidly impacting all career paths. Among the companies that will be participating are Facebook, Tesla and Amazon, who will either have their employees teleconference in or personally appear. It’s another facet of the Coder School that Bhalla feels brings added value to their students.

“Having these speakers come in is important because if you are not exposed to the various things that you can do as a career, you’re not going to look for them or think about them,” she said. “I also think its important to have a firsthand understanding of how technology is impacting various careers. We have speakers from health care, technology companies and transportation companies. I think it’s really important and it really increases the level of engagement by the students here.”

Visit syosset.thecoderschool.com or call 516-584-4244 to find out more information about Syosset’s The Coder School.

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In addition to being editor of Garden City Life and Syosset-Jericho Tribune, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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