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Coder School of Montgomery Stages a Grand Opening

By Rikki Massand with photographs by Barbara A. Preston

The Coder School of Montgomery celebrated the grand opening of its new, modern space in the Grove at Montgomery plaza on Saturday, August 8, at the corner of Route 206 and Belle Mead-Griggstown Road.

Michael and Dominique Young, owners of The Coder School of Montgomery

Husband and wife duo Michael and Dominique Young are local entrepreneurs starting up Montgomery’s Coder School, and they didn’t look far to identify the market and rapidly-evolving community with education, innovation and technology as core values.

State mandates due to COVID-19 halted construction and a code compliance checklist for the Belle Mead location, but despite the unforeseen setback the Youngs say that the characteristics of the community made this the only destination for them to build a ‘Coder School network’ in.

The Montgomery code coaching staff will mainly be college students, whom major in IT or STEM fields now, from Princeton University, Rutgers, Kean University, and The College of New Jersey. Coaches were trained prior to the school’s opening.

Neha Nelson, 20, of Belle Mead, a computer engineering major at Rutgers University, teaches coding to Dante Love, 15, of Asbury Park. Nelson graduated from Montgomery High School in 2017.

“We are excited about being in Montgomery and that is why our location is named The

Coder School Montgomery," Dominique Young said. "We researched the beginnings of the township, the school district, the board of education, and makeup of the community. We want to provide a dynamic of mentoring and growth, fostering collaborations as well as a sense of independence for children. Kids will have a professional learning environment with programs, game development, and group dynamics. With online learning so prevalent, Coder School is leveraging these skills and talents right now.”

Dominique works in educational programs and marketing for Crayola, and is a native of Los Angeles. Previously she worked for Scholastic marketing literacy products and programs. She and her husband Michael have lived in Somerset County for seven years, have two daughters: Chloe, 10 and Lauren 6.

Owner Michael Young with his daughter Lauren, 6.

Michael hails from Pensacola, Florida. He worked in the finance industry and sales after earning a law degree at the University of Iowa. He decided to walk away from the corporate world “to do something more meaningful.”

“Helping educate our students and helping them adapt to 21st Century technologies, empowering them and pushing the envelope forward, is our motivation with the Coder

School," Michael said. "Kids have creative ideas; those talents and interests must be cultivated and nurtured.”

“Learning programming is incredibly valuable; the skill set can be leveraged across many industries and career paths. Our customized programs not only teach students how to code, they help develop highly sought-after qualities such as critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills,” he said.

Recently the Coder School brand partnered with the Congressional App Challenge

to open up doors to national competitions. Several Coder School attendees have gone on

to CompSci programs at leading universities including UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, MIT, and Harvard.

Dominique adds that the Coder School holds appeal with its range of programs, levels of

instruction and flexibility within its curriculum. The uncertainty of when schools will reopen

increased the societal need for flexibility and innovative learning options.

Saud Tahir, 19, of Skillman is a computer engineering major at the University of Illinois. He is a Coder School coach, and is working with Tanisha Shah, 9, and her sister Anjali Shah, 11, both of Hillsborough. Tahir graduated from Montgomery High School in 2019.

“With Coder School we can debunk the idea that coding and technology are applicable to ‘lab jobs’ and are sterile," Dominique says. "This is a place for collaborations and creative thinking to thrive... our programs present customized instruction, and the learning-by-doing emphasis really stood out for us. Coder School has a clubhouse, rather a Silicon Startups and Google Hangouts feel — its environment speaks to us. We cater to children’s learning styles, encouraging kids to forge their own paths."

The Coder School offerings could fill an educational void that emerged due to this fragmented school year.

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"As students manage their school workload, which has to shift online, Coder School programs benefit them in creating digital projects and developing presentations. This involves establishing students’ mindsets with time management techniques, collaborative projects, and execution," Michael says.

Luke Thoden, 22, of Hillsborough, a coach at The Coder School, signs in Simone Willis with sisters Chloe and Lauren Young.

"We will teach ways to be more organized in their current learning situations and infuse critical thinking skills into their schoolwork, as they go on, with

preparation for college classes and careers,” he added.

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