Ms. Janie Bodner, guest on the Rex Academy Podcast the executive director at New Horizons, knew she needed to be innovative when the pandemic started in 2020. In order to continue providing at-risk youth with educational services when many organizations started to close their doors, Ms. Bodner turned to online programming.
Ms. Bodner recalls that her mother grew up in a home with a dirt floor and didn’t have the opportunity to finish school. Even so, Ms. Bodner remembers her mother as being truly dedicated to ensuring her children received an education. Now, Ms. Bodner has set the goal to help others obtain the resources needed to purse a bright future and obtain an education.
Ms. Bodner is currently the executive director at New Horizons of North Texas, an organization that provided after-school programs for students in the community. When the pandemic started in 2020, many after-school programs in the area shut down. In response, New Horizons created an online program to keep students engaged. The online program provided literacy and STEM programs among others, in addition to providing job search services for parents. This summer, New Horizons is offering a summer camp in collaboration with other local churches and organizations.
Reflecting on her organization’s response to the pandemic, Ms. Bodner stated that organizations had two options – shelter in place or pivot. New Horizons decided to innovate in order to continue their mission and to continue providing services for the community. New Horizons has built a reputation for being the solution for learning loss that occurs during the summer and as a result of the pandemic. Notably, students who have participated in the program do not demonstrate learning loss, which is critical since Ms. Bodner stressed the importance of maintaining grade level proficiency in order to stay on track for graduation.
Ms. Bodner noticed that as student’s schooling went online, students may have been comfortable with typing on a phone, but struggled to type on a traditional keyboard. The program started focusing on providing girls with computer science skills and participants with the opportunity to learn skills such as coding. The organization has become a pioneer for online programs and after school programing in the area. Looking forward to the future, New Horizons is exploring hybrid models and making strategic alliances in the community.
In the post-pandemic world, after-school programs, schools and organizations must be innovative in order to continue providing educational resources. Programs such as New Horizons provide innovative models that ensure students can continue to access resources. As the world continues to move to hybrid and online models as a result of the pandemic, computer science skills will be essential for students. Rex Academy seeks to provide innovative options for students to have great access to programs that provide computer science education. With innovations in education and computer science programs, students can continue to access exceptional educational experiences.