Avalon students learning real-life skills in information technology classroom

They are learning everything there is to know about technology, from network concepts and databases to coding and the value of cyber security, and it’s one of those classes that has a strong grip on the interest of the seventh and eighth graders taking part in it.

“It’s really fun,” seventh grader Dimitri Makris said. “I’ve always enjoyed video games and computers, and thought this class would be a lot of fun. I’ve learned a lot.”

Kimberly Purvis heads up the class, which is now in its third year of being offered to students. She worked in the business world at one time tries to bring as much real-life experience as she can into the classroom to help aid the learning process in the ever-growing field of computers and cybersecurity.

“I bring in as many real-life examples as I can. it’s important for them to see the value of what they are learning and how they can use that in their careers and lives. These are important skills.”

As Avalon Middle School Principal Joe Trujillo explains, the students are not only learning about computers, but they are gaining knowledge that can set them up for employment straight out of high school.

“I was speaking with a couple of parents who work at Navy Federal and they said these skills are the exact ones they are looking for when it comes to employment,” Trujillo said. “These skills they are learning tie directly into our community.”

Students can earn multiple certifications as they go through middle school and into high school that are tied to information technology and cybersecurity.

And that’s one of the things Purvis loves most about teaching this class.
“It’s nice to teach them real-life skills that I know from personal experience they will be able to use,” Purvis said. “They have the potential leave high school with four or five certifications. It’s a really good program.”

Eighth grader Brody Crider is thankful he’s a part of it.

“It’s a skill you can brag about and use in life. There’s a lot you can do with what you learn in this class,” Crider said.

The hacking part of the class has been one of the most interesting things for eighth grader Oliver Keene. He’s learned what can be done to prevent cyberattacks.

“We’ve seen how someone can find a vulnerability in your system with a couple of commands and find a backdoor in where there really isn’t any protection,” Keene said.

Purvis said she works to keep the students as engaged as possible, especially in the labs where students have even taken apart computers to learn more about them.

“I love the labs for sure,” Makris said. “Getting to be hands on is the most fun.”

Interestingly enough, Crider and Keene said the most fun part of the class is something one wouldn’t expect.

“The tests,” Crider said. “I know that sounds weird, but you get to test your knowledge of what you have learned.”

Keene echoed that answer.

“It’s an odd answer, but I like the exams so you can see where you are at and prove that you are ready for this type of thing,” Keene said.

Even if the students don’t go into computers for a living, the skills will still benefit them.

“No matter what you do, you need computers. This generation doesn’t have the option of not knowing how to use one,” Purvis said.

All three students that were interviewed said they are interested in potentially going into the field one day. For Keene, it would be an opportunity to help prevent a cyber attack that could prove catastrophic.

“It makes you feel important that you are the first line of defense against it,” Keene said.