William Rosado

In August 2007, William, our self proclaimed “badboy” is returning to college. He wants to blend his love of computers with his love of music and study towards a degree in Music Engineering.

William has lived at Kingsbury’s Twin Towers with his mother since he was 16 years old. He was able to finish his high school studies through a partnership with the Daylight Twilight High School Program and the Kenyon Hodges Computer Learning Center where teachers hold classes for students who want to earn their High School diploma. William learned about the program by coming to the center since he has always been interested in computers and composing music using computers. William would come to the KHCLC to utilize the Internet since he didn’t have it at home.

Today you can find William in the Kenyon Hodges Computer Learning Center working as the Computer Lab Attendant with adults, helping the Homework Club participants or sitting with the teens and helping them format their My Space pages.

During his tenure at the KHCLC, we have all gained from William and his experiences. William’s work with our youth is unparalleled. They come to him for support and friendship. He has become a leader in the community. As He becomes more familiar with current software technologies he has also been able to further his knowledge of music composition by taking online classes that the KHCLC offers to the youth through the Youth Digital Arts Cyber School (YDACS) and the facilitating them for our youth. Ask William about his video game creation.


Shakirah and her fifth grade class at Parker Elementary School won first place in the national “First In Math” competition through her involvement with the computer learning center.

Shakirah comes to the Kenyon Hodges Computer Learning Center almost every day after school and during the summer. She does her homework and uses the resources available to her at the KHCLC (computers, reference books, project supplies, tutors). On days that Shakirah misses school due to illness or doctors’ appointments, she comes to the center so that someone can call the school and get her assignments so she won’t be so far behind when she re-turns to school.

Shakirah says that her favorite parts of the KHCLC are computer access, the summer program, trips and Homework Club. Shakirah thinks the center is “more fun than sitting around Kingsbury with nothing else to do”. Recently the KHCLC began a program in digital arts using on-line classes at the Youth Digital Arts Cyber School. Shakirah is currently taking digital painting and looks forward to learning about composing digital music.

Shakirah is a 12 year old young lady entering sixth grade this year. She has lived at Kingsbury’s Twin Towers all her life with her mother and two older brothers. As Shakirah and her friends mature their needs will change. With their input, The Staff is constantly thinking of future programming so that we can continue to meet the needs of the teens and tweens in our community.

Rosemarie Johnson

When her 4 year old granddaughter was diagnosed with croup, Rosemarie had no idea what the Doctor’s were telling her. “Before I moved here, I had no knowledge of a lot of things like Diseases, Bingo, computers…” Rosemarie started coming to the center with her friend, Kat. and figured someone there would be able to tell her what Croup was. Rosemarie never thought she would be the one to look it up on the computer and felt better about the diagnosis.

Rosemarie has lived at Kingsbury Twin Towers for about 6 years. Rosemarie says the first thing she did when she moved here was play Bingo and she was hooked. She began to come to the Kenyon Hodges Computer Learning Center with her friend, Kat. Rosemarie loved to watch Kat type and wanted to learn to type like her. That’s when Rosemarie began her relationship with “Miss Mavis” of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. Rosemarie was very excited and proud of herself when she finally typed her own name for the first time. “It was a good feeling,” she said.

Rosemarie continued her typing and then learned how to play games on the computer. She would come to the center and play games with her friends. When the center installed new computers. Rosemarie received her first username and password and is very proud of being able to log onto the computers.

Recently, Rosemarie has begun to use the computers to look up things on the Internet. After she takes a class about health care or healthy living, she will come to the computer lab and continue to learn more about the things she learned just learned about in class. She will watch a program on TV about an historical figure and continue to do research on the computers. “I can’t Google yet,” she says, “but I’m trying. Mr. William and Ms. Shari are always helpful.”

Gloria Lewis

Looking for a way to keep herself busy, Gloria started working in Kingsbury as part of the resident volunteer stipend program in the Kenyon Hodges Computer Learning Center six hours a week. At the center Gloria learned about the satellite program of Daylight Twilight High School and she quickly started her studies to earn her high school diploma by going to class three days a week at the center.

In June 2004, Ms. Lewis finally wore her cap and gown and received her High School Diploma almost 30 years later than she had originally planned. She knows that living at Twin Towers and having the KHCLC available made it possible to achieve her dream of having a High School diploma.

Currently, Ms. Gloria, as the children call her, continues to be a volunteer at the KHCLC helping the children with homework and supervising the summer time programs and trips. She continues to be active because the center is so close to home. When not working at the KHCLC, you can find Gloria spending time with her friends playing computer games, showing them things she’s learned on the computer or attending Game Night.

Ms. Gloria says that “she loves the kids and the computers” and that’s why she keeps coming back.

A Workshop in Boston Changes a Center in Trenton

(featured on the Neighborhood Networks Web site in October, 2007)

During the summer of 2006, Shari Sabath had a center-changing experience. Sabath, director of the Kenyon Hodges Computer Learning Center, registered to attend the Neighborhood Networks Regional Technical Assistance Workshop (RTAW) that was being held in Boston. After reviewing the list of scheduled sessions, Sabath was excited to take part in the training event that she knew would provide her with the information and resources she needed to improve and invigorate the center. Just how positively the RTAW would impact the center, Sabath could not have imagined.

Inspired at Harvard, Implemented in Trenton

Sabath’s moment of inspiration came to her while she was participating in an RTAW digital arts session sponsored by the Neighborhood Networks National Consortium and held at Harvard University. Presented by Craig Davis, president and chief executive officer of the Youth Digital Arts CyberSchool (YDACS) and Vanessa Pabon of Telling Our Legacy Digitally, the session emphasized that becoming proficient in digital arts (painting, music, animation, and video game design) in college is too late. Children as young as third grade can learn the necessary skills and create professional-looking projects.

“I thought the whole concept was cool,” said Sabath. “The paintings, video games, and music the instructor shared with us were amazing. I knew we had to launch a similar program at our center.”

When Sabath returned home, she focused her efforts on implementing a digital arts program at the Kenyon Hodges Computer Learning Center. Her first step was to purchase five MPEG Audio Decoder (MAD) players, the devices used to compose music demonstrated at the workshop. Sabath then called Craig Davis of YDACS and registered some of her students for the Learning Through Music Technology course. An online school, YDACS focuses its instruction on students in the third grade through high school. Each $60 course is self-paced and allows students to enroll at any time online.

“I began with five students,” said Sabath. “And from the very first session, I knew it was a great program that we had to expand. These courses are not like traditional learning. They allow the students to express their creative side.”

Sabath then worked with Davis to expand her digital arts curriculum. “Craig helped me determine what I needed and who could help me get it,” said Sabath. “I then began building relationships with organizations and securing funding.”

One organization that helped Sabath expand the center’s digital arts program was MassIMPACT. With grant money awarded by MassIMPACT, Sabath purchased the software to offer two different video game design courses.

“For the future, I imagine how amazing it will be for a high school graduate to go to a college interview for the Media Arts with a portfolio of computer games, digital paintings, digital music, and animated characters that she has created,” said Sabath. “I can also imagine the micro-enterprise opportunities for the residents of our housing complex in selling their games, paintings, and/or music.”

Cool Program for the Hot Summer

This past summer, the center offered an expanded digital arts curriculum. Sabath applied for and was awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grant from the City of Trenton that funded 15 spots in the program. The other spots were funded by donations from the property management company and private donors.

“For the summer program, students were divided into age-appropriate groups,” said Sabath. “We had 17 six- and seven-year-olds, 12 third through fifth graders, and 12 sixth through ninth graders. The participants all worked on various digital arts projects. And what was neat to see was how they all served as each other’s mentors and collaborators.”

Focused on the Future

The history of the Kenyon Hodges Computer Learning Center confirms the fact that center staff is always looking for ways to improve and grow. “The residents at the Kingsbury Twin Towers have always supported the center,” said Sabath. “When the center opened in 1996, it offered access to three computers with dial-up Internet access that were housed in a 250-square foot closet. In less than a year, we moved to a 1,500-square foot space with six computers that offered high-speed Internet. Today, we have nine computers. Even though we’ve accomplished a great deal, we’re always asking, ‘What next?’”

This fall, Sabath will use the remaining money from the CDBG grant to launch the Teen Academy. “This program is important to offer because it fulfills a need that the city has to provide more teen programs between the at-risk hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. when the incidents of vandalism seem to peak. To participate, students must attend school. In addition to offering online courses, the academy will take students to art shows and on other field trips.”

Sabath is also planning to implement a mentor program in which the older students will mentor the younger students. Establishing an internship program for teens and young adults is another area that Sabath wants to explore.

“Even though the digital arts program is one of our most cutting-edge programs, it’s not the only program I am hoping to grow,” said Sabath. “I’m still looking for that big donor, or multiple donors, to fund a literacy program and mentoring programs. We already have an alternative high school program for adults, and we’re constantly trying to find new ways for the center to be all it can be for all of our residents.”

Online Course Removes Barrier to Earning a High School Diploma

(featured on the Neighborhood Networks Web site in December, 2006)

A high school diploma is a springboard to better employment opportunities, college admission, and even acceptance into the military. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2004, high school graduates were 70 percent more likely to be employed than those without a high school diploma. The majority of jobs today require some type of training or education beyond high school, and most institutions of higher education want their applicants to be high school graduates. In addition to opening a world of opportunity, a high school diploma demonstrates a student’s commitment to expanding his or her mind and dedication to getting the job done—two traits that score major points with potential employers.
Staff at the Kenyon Hodges Computer Learning Center (KHCLC) in Trenton, NJ, believe that earning a high school diploma can create a sense of pride and accomplishment at any age. So, in collaboration with the Daylight Twilight High School (DTHS), they offer a high school diploma program for adults who never completed high school.

Satellite Campus

A nontraditional public high school for out-of-school youth, young adults, and high school students with academic, behavioral, or social problems, DTHS provides a comprehensive high school educational program to help students earn their high school diploma. Although DTHS awards more diplomas annually than any other high school in New Jersey, Principal William Tracy felt that they could reach even more people by establishing satellite campuses in locations more accessible to Trenton residents. Tracy approached the staff at KHCLC, located at the Kingsbury Corporation Twin Towers site, about being a satellite site for residents in the Kingsbury community and surrounding areas. In September 2004, KHCLC began offering a traditional in-class high school diploma program. Two years later, the center added an online diploma program through Advanced Academics, an Internet company that provides Web-based instruction in secondary education.

“At KHCLC, the high school diploma program is offered to the entire community, not only Kingsbury residents, but participants must be 19 years or older,” says Shari Sabath, center director. “Applications are available at the center, and once potential students complete their application, we submit it to onsite program instructors who then register them in the Trenton Public School System through DTHS.”

Two Formats From Which to Choose

DTHS funds the program, provides instructors, and pays for students’ tuition. Once enrolled, students participate in a curriculum that emphasizes math, language arts, socials studies, health, and science—core high school educational courses. Students can opt to take the traditional, in-class program or the online program.

Students in the traditional in-class program meet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The in-class program is offered in 10-week sessions, and it may take up to 2 ½ years to complete the entire program.

For the online program, students can meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., but are not required to go to the center to complete their course work. Students can participate and complete assignments at home or anywhere that has Internet access. However, they are required to meet once a week with William Royal, DTHS online instructor; log in a minimum of six hours a week to remain in the program; and take all tests and exams at the center. KHCLC is the only one of five satellite campuses that offers the online program and instituting it was not without challenges.

“Originally, we were unable to offer the online aspect of the program because we had donated computers that were running Windows 98 and were too unstable,” says Sabath. “In 2005, we were awarded a matching Community Development Block Grant. With that money, we purchased new Pentium 4 computers and a server—which allowed us to run the more stable Windows XP—and set up the computers in such a way that they were protected from malware.”

Increased Flexibility

Offering an online program also increases student retention because it eliminates transportation, childcare, eldercare, and other barriers that affect consistent attendance. Being able to work at home solves many of these issues and is a major advantage of the online program. Students can also complete assignments and coursework around their work schedules so they don’t miss work and don’t have to pay for childcare or eldercare, or transportation.

“I can do the work around my schedule as a mom,” says one resident. “I also like that I can work from any computer with Internet access.” Another resident who has already earned 95 of the required 115 credits adds, “The online program is easier for me. I can work at my own pace and only do what I have to.”

“I think that the flexibility that students have—being able to do their coursework at the center, at home, or any other computer—is helping them stick to it,” says Sabath. “The real proof will be the number of graduates in June.”

There are currently 18 students enrolled in the online program and 14 in the traditional program. All participants must complete the state’s High School Proficiency Assessment examination and fulfill regular state course requirements to receive their diplomas and graduate.

“Our students receive a high school diploma from the Trenton, New Jersey, Board of Education,” said Martin Galvin, DTHS curriculum coordinator. “This is not a GED [General Educational Development] program, which is often challenging for residents and not accepted at some colleges and universities. After completing the program, these students are high school graduates. That’s amazing.”

Opening Avenues for Further Service

The satellite high school diploma program has had a positive effect on KHCLC. The center’s computers are now being used more as tools and less as toys. The high school diploma program has increased center traffic during previously low use times, and center staff members are eager to reach out to these new faces and recruit them for other programs now that they are comfortable in the center.