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NACA – Innovatively Saving the American Dream:
Entrepreneur Develops Innovative Program Training Kids In Computer Technology, While Making Them Straight A Students
Click here to see the Kidzwit slide-show.
This entrepreneur is empowering children to perform ahead of the
curve technologically and academically. This is how he began.
Andre enrolled in college and took out a student loan to buy a computer that did not belong to the school so he could take it apart and rebuild it every day. He became good at it. He improved it and made it operate better. He worked in the schools computer lab to help set up and network the computers. He taught himself html code and web site design and the director of the lab observed his work and started mentoring him. He won a resume' writing contest and got a job with the government as an Assistant LAN Administrator to set up, format, and install computer operating systems at Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama. After graduation with a B.S. Degree in computer science, he accepted a job with IBM as an IT Specialist. He later changed positions and went to work as Grant Manager for IBM Corporate Community Relations Department. Working in this department changed his focus. He said, “Working with Non-Profit Organizations motivated my passion for youth leadership and technology training. I figure that the best way to communicate with our children is through the use of computer technology: So much so that this is when I seriously looked at starting my own company to accomplish this.”
“With computer technology as the main focus and youth leadership as the background source for training, the Kidzwit Program was formed. Kidzwit stands for (Kids Working In Technology) and it is also a play on the word ‘wit’ for intelligence. I began tutoring kids in the afternoon with computer technology as our main source for teaching/training them in math and science. I discovered that there is a definite connection between how kids learn the operation of computers and how they perform in the class-room; their grades accelerate when the two are properly used together and it works with children from kindergarten on up.”
A friend of his had a son who had problems remembering school work. Andre used computers to help him by having the boy start learning to type. He used a “Blues Clues” typing program that assisted this effort. The boy then started typing his work instead of writing it and he did it in the Excel software program. This change was all that he needed to condition his memory and his schoolwork dramatically improved. Andre helped a girl to who had problems remembering her spelling words. He observed that she loved to sing and listen to the radio, so he had her sing her spelling words into the computer and she would listen to her voice sing them back to her. This solved her memory problem and her spelling grades shot up.
So, Andre was asked how did he organize his program and he said, “It is a fact that this generation of kids are not only accustomed to computers and electronics, they have a fascination for them. I use this as motivational tool. I converted the basement of my house into a computer lab class room setting with desks and computers for each child. Those that were not familiar with computers were taught video games and then games on computers. This generates the interest for increasing their knowledge base with more complex technology. The children are always anxious to get on the computers to review what they have learned or to learn something new, but I have a standing rule; no one gets on the computer until they have completed their homework. They know that I will check all assignments for completion and accuracy and I give them an hour and half to do so. They know they must focus so they do their homework faster and they get it right. “The computer is the carrot”, says Andre, “and the more knowledgeable they become with computers the more they become better with their homework, and their work in the class room.”
When asked what did he do and how did his program work in his classes, this how he replied, “I used existing software to help them with all of their subjects, even software that was considered too advanced for them. I helped them to understand it. I taught them all from the Micro Soft Applications Office program. They were taught Photo Shop, html codes and programming to build web pages from the ground up, they were taught how to incorporate audio and video from Micro Soft Movie Maker. The kids stopped using crayons and paper, they would draw the images, scan them and then color them electronically. They played internet games that helped to increase their I.Q., they were taught a variety of software and how to remotely gain access to a computer.”
“But that was only the beginning. I taught them the entire operating structure of a computer. I took it apart and taught them ´hands on' all of its operating parts, this helped them to learn and remember hardware, loading operating systems and building mother boards. They learned about processing chips, bios, CD-ROM's and how to burn CD's. They all had email addresses and would check them to get their study assignments. I gave a class a one week assignment to take computer parts and put them back together. They rebuilt it and it was a functioning computer. They became able to follow my instructions over the phone and repair their computers at home, or help their teachers at school with software applications. Naturally, Mama is not going to let them take apart a computer, but I will.”
When asked what were the academic results that he obtained with his students, this was his response: “The Kidz Wit program helped my students to build their confidence and self esteem. Their talents became obvious to them because they did things they did not think they could do. I would have them all give verbal presentations once a week to each other on subjects like Power Point or Excel and they would; with emphasis on vocabulary and enunciation.
Academically they have been exceptional. Every student that has been in my program has increased their grades and 90% of them have increased them to straight A's. It doesn't take them weeks and months, we're talking about immediate grade improvement. Students that were making D's started making B's and B students became A students, they all seemed to skip the C category. Their teachers confirmed their grade improvements and I was not working with high school students, as a high school with a program similar to mine. I was working with children that the majority were from kindergarten to the fifth grade.”
“This technology can be used to enhance the learning process of any subject. These children can take this foundation and go anywhere they want to go in academics or a chosen career. They could receive A Plus Certification that would make them in demand in a lucrative technology job market before they finish high school. If we had a national program that trains IT professionals on how to adapt technology to children and a national after-school program that helped children to receive this training, the children of America could be prepared to compete with anyone in the world in academics, science and commerce.”
A recent international study of developed countries for academic achievement revealed that the children of America are only at best average compared to children in Europe and Asia and education is a major issue for being able to help the country recover economically. This writer knows from first-hand evidence that what Andre Johnson has created with “Kidz Wit” is real. Four of my grandchildren were in his program, all four become honor roll students and two of them became straight “A" students. They have built their own web sites, they are becoming technologically savvy, and two of them already have a chosen career path.
They are no longer in “Kidz Wit” because they have moved to a different county. But I asked them if they would like to get back in the program, and the expressions on their faces were as if I asked did they want ice cream and more Christmas presents. One of them told me, “ I was struggling with my school work before I got into the program, and my teacher started asking me what was I doing when I began to get straight A's. I gave a presentation of the program to my teacher and the class. I want to go back because my future and the type of school I can get into could depend on it.” What one enjoys doing is what they can do well, and Andre Johnson has discovered a methodology that helps children to enjoy the process of learning. If you want to know more about Andre and “Kidz Wit” go to www.kidzwit.com. This article is lengthy because America needs to know what he has to offer our children and our country.