Lincoln Students Gain IT Instruction Through U of A, Rockfish Partnership

Jared Justus of Rockfish Digital assists Lincoln High School Students with a computer programming assignment.
Photo by Kay Murphy, Global Campus

Jared Justus of Rockfish Digital assists Lincoln High School Students with a computer programming assignment.

LINCOLN, Ark. – Jared Justus, a developer for Rockfish Digital in Rogers, has a passion for programming and coding, and now he is sharing it with Lincoln High School students.

Justus started teaching classes part-time in Lincoln in January, in addition to his Rockfish responsibilities. He is part of a multi-partner team working to expose Lincoln students to multiple aspects of computer technology and science.

“There are so many different careers in computer science, and any knowledge or experience that I can impart to the students to help narrow down their career path is my goal,” Justus said.

Courtney Jones, principal of Lincoln High School, initiated the partnership by securing a grant from the United Way of Northwest Arkansas to fund the instruction of a computer science class. Then she turned to the University of Arkansas Global Campus in Rogers to help her find the right instructor.

Tara Dryer, director of training, corporate development and academic outreach at the Global Campus, called on Rockfish, one of a dozen industry partners for the U of A IT Readiness Certificate program. Rockfish tapped Justus for the job.

Lincoln High School Principal Courtney Jones and part-time instructor Jared Justice of Rockfish Digital are showing students the different career paths available in computer science and technology.

“(Computer science) is a big need here,” Jones said of Northwest Arkansas. “Industry needs computer programmers. Industry needs coders, and they pay well.”

Justus travels to Lincoln every Monday to provide hands-on instruction for two computer science and mathematics classes, and then students study online the rest of the week, completing assignments and projects.

“The feedback has been good from the students,” Jones said.

Students took a field trip recently to the Rockfish office in Rogers to talk with employees about the different aspects and specialties of their positions.

“You have so many options when you study computer sciences,” Jones said. “It could lead to a multiple-path career.”

The Global Campus saw this partnership as a way to further its mission of meeting the educational needs and workforce demands of Northwest Arkansas, said Mark Berkowick, assistant director of workforce readiness. The high school partnership complements the U of A IT Readiness Certificate program, a six-month program designed to prepare people for in-demand, entry-level information technology jobs.

High school partnerships with industry are extremely important because they expand students’ knowledge about job options and what skills are required to get those jobs, Jones said.

Other partnerships have provided a variety of career-readiness programs at Lincoln High School that teach students how to run forklifts, administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), act as personal care assistants and understand Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules.

Jones said she wants every high school student to graduate with a plan for their future, whether that is immediate employment, continued education for a skilled trade or college enrollment.

“We do not want them walking out the door unprepared for life,” Jones said.

Helping students get basic training in computer science, coding and programming is another way Lincoln High School students prepare for the workforce.

About the Global Campus: The Global Campus supports U of A colleges and schools in the development and delivery of online, distance and workforce education programs and courses. It provides instructional design services, technology services and assistance with marketing, recruiting and strategic academic development.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Mark Berkowick, assistant director of workforce readiness
Global Campus
479-464-5024, mcberkow@uark.edu

Kay Murphy, director of communications
Global Campus
479-575-6489, ksmurphy@uark.edu

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