Tech Pathways

Community orgs work with public education to bring students digital opportunities through Apple Community Education Initiative

Monte Del Sol Charter School junior Yuridia Martinez wasn’t interested in technology at first. But following her participation in a new program, she’s now considering a career in the film industry.

Martinez joined the Apple Creates program at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Fe/Del Norte at the Santa Fe Place Mall when it began in January and says she enjoyed learning as she worked on a comedic animated short film involving a cast of cartoon ghosts at a house party.

“The process of editing it and seeing how it ends up, it’s just made me more interested in wanting to be an editor, probably,” she tells SFR, noting she now hopes to pursue a career in animation, maybe even working for Disney Animation Studios.

That’s exactly the kind of inspiration local Boys & Girls Club CEO Sarah Gettler was hoping for when the club became part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative, which teaches students of all ages how to code or work in other digital creative pursuits.

She tells SFR students “are probably going to have careers and jobs in industries we don’t even know about. I think this is the best way we can prepare them for different kinds of careers.”

Santa Fe Community College Strategic Advisor Meg Fisher, who previously worked for 11 years as a senior manager of Apple’s education content, helped Santa Fe Public Schools, Santa Fe Indian School, Santa Fe Community College, STEM Santa Fe and the local Boys & Girls Club put together a proposal for the CEI, which resulted in receiving Apple technology such as iMacs, MacBook Airs, iPads, Apple Pencil and Logitech for labs at the schools and organizations.

The schools will also receive instructional support from Apple Professional Learning, where instructors from Apple will guide students and teachers through tutorials while introducing Apple’s curricula.

“Our vision is to have the opportunity for people across the community, and more widely across the region, to have access to these wonderful educational experiences,” Gettler says.

Brianna Martinez, the Teen Center’s 23-year-old co-director who assists teaching the Apple Creates curriculum, says the program is “mind-blowing.” Martinez, no relation to Yuridia Martinez, tells SFR students have learned to use GarageBand to make their own music; Keynote to develop presentations; and various video editing software such as iMovie to create short videos.

“I think it’s helpful for the teens to be able to show what they can actually do,” she says. “I think Apple Creates specifically has helped them come out of their shell more, because we’ve had teens that weren’t really comfortable with working on the iPads or other technology.”

On the “coding” side of the program, instructors use Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum for all ages. This includes the Swift Playgrounds app to share activities that introduce children to coding concepts, then connect them to everyday life and apply the lessons through solving puzzles.

Additionally, Santa Fe Community College has set up a certificate program with instructional support from Apple for application development and web development.

“I think that’s exciting, and also kind of declares, ‘Hey, there are skills that are behind this that also help seek work to be a junior app developer [for example],’” Fisher says. “There’s a lot of jobs out there that, as long as you have your laptop, you can go do really great work and explore those things.”

SFCC’s Dean of Continuing Education and Contract Training Kris Swedin notes the programs move forward the state’s initiative to increase digital equity for those who have not had previous access.

“This is an opportunity to put really cutting-edge technology in the hands of young people who don’t necessarily get a chance to use it, and to put it in a safe environment where they feel comfortable and want to come on their own, and they get to learn from each other,” Swedin says.

Gettler says the Boys & Girls Club will hold both open studio time and formalized classes at the mall’s Teen Center, where the club plans to transform an adjacent former store into a tech lab to teach coding. According to Gettler, the space will be modeled similarly to an Apple store, and will have a conference room and individual pods for kids to work in. Eventually, Gettler aims to add 3D printing.

The renovation is nearly complete, with the furniture for the tech lab slated to be delivered by Sept. 15. Gettler says organizers hope to have the project done “sometime in September,” although they don’t have a target opening date yet.

Already, however, students are making progress.

“How much these kids are having a great time learning and expressing themselves—it means a lot,” Fisher says. “Seeing young people excited is the heartbeat of everything.”

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