The Story Behind JRS Coding School

The Story Behind JRS Coding School

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but I have lived in Charleston, South Carolina, since 1995, so this feels very much like home to me. I am the Chief Technology Innovation Officer at Tabula Rasa HealthCare (TRHC), where I lead the Jack Russell Software (JRS) Innovation Center (IC) and serve as Head Instructor of the JRS Coding School, and through those roles, among others, I’ve been involved in the Charleston technical community.

Over the last two decades, I’ve worked with some incredible people, including groups like the Charleston Digital Corridor and the professionals who started Iron Yard in Charleston, to cultivate local tech talent. While these are both great programs, they have broad educational offerings. I saw an opportunity to grow another group of developers, one more deeply focused in JavaScript and full-stacked JavaScript.

In my own experience with TRHC, a national company based in New Jersey, good JavaScript full-stack developers have often been in demand and difficult to find. The local need (both start-ups and mature companies) for this skill set has been evident as well. Thus, I was compelled to develop a coding school program. After a few years of brainstorming and planning, I was able to launch the JRS IC to support corporate initiatives, and the JRS Coding School to support the need for local developer talent. We created JRS Coding School and an immersive, 12-week, full-stack JavaScript program.

Related: What is life really like a full-time JRS Coding School student? We asked three students from the fall 2016 course to share their daily schedules.

The Timeline

The idea for a 12-week program actually originated from an apprenticeship program I started with my own company years ago. That program would accept people with no coding skills and train them during a 6-week intensive internship, then continue the learning process with a 6-week paid apprenticeship. That format proved very successful, so we were not surprised when our research of coding programs revealed that schools with 12-week cycles often demonstrated higher employment rates and more satisfied students. So, with that data and experience, we felt comfortable with a 12-week timeline for JRS Coding School.  

The Structure

When formulating the program, I felt very strongly that JRS Coding School courses be taught in person, rather than online. I understand that I’m asking a lot from my students, and they are at a critical juncture in their lives. They are changing or starting careers and spending good money to do it. I want to provide the best opportunity to succeed that I can, and in order to do that, I need them to dedicate eight hours a day, five days a week, for 12 weeks. In my experience, students who are studying remotely are more prone to distractions and have more difficulty fully immersing themselves in the teachings. But, when students learn to code in a group environment, in person, they are more likely to be present and engaged.

Another benefit to learning to code in person is the built-in support system of the class and the instructors. Coding classmates and instructors will work with you, lift you up, and help you move through those barriers. And, after coding school has finished, they often continue to be a peer support system. That’s the environment I want to create for my students because that’s the environment that helps launch rewarding careers (and lifelong friendships.)

The Location

Charleston is an exciting place to be right now. We’ve experienced a boom in technology since 2009, and many tech companies, in all stages of growth, thrive in Charleston. Thus, our city has earned the nickname “Silicon Harbor.” Inc’s 35th Annual Inc. 5000 recognized 23 companies from Charleston, 12 of which were technical companies.

Of course, it’s important to note that software developers can live anywhere–demand for good coders is widespread. I believe, however, that for developers with an option of where to call home, Charleston should be a consideration. Charleston is well-suited for those who value a good work-life balance and enjoy the outdoors. Charleston is paradise if you enjoy beaches, boating, or playing golf or tennis. Additionally, Charleston offers a less expensive cost of living than San Francisco, New York, and other big cities that are popular for developers.

For those who are thinking about coding school, options abound – and that’s a good thing. Beginner coders and prospective students should focus on finding the learning environment that works best for them. At JRS Coding School, we think we’ve found a timeline, structure, and location that is conducive to successful and enjoyable learning.

If that environment sounds like it might be right for you too, I hope you’ll give us a call.

Apply to the JRS Coding School