Burke County students getting opportunity to learn about cyber security at middle school level

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019
News 12 This Morning

BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- $500,000 may be a lot of money, but the experience it's giving these kids is priceless. The money is in the form of a grant and is being used for computer science programs at Burke County middle schools.

"You can barely turn on the news right now without hearing about cybersecurity in the region, and we wanted to make sure our kids had the same opportunities as any other student in the area; to benefit from job opportunities that are coming available because that job market is expanding," Burke County CTAE director Sean Middleton said.

Middleton says the grant doesn't just give students one class but several.

"In middle schools, it will be foundations of secure information systems, foundations of computer programming, and foundations of interactive design. So [students] will get a variety of different types of classes to take in middle school to kind of feed their interests," Middleton said.

In Burke County, the classes will be treated as electives, so it allows students to dip their toes in different areas. For students who enjoy the courses, Middleton says, they are a gateway to another program Burke County School System offers.

"We have those cybersecurity pathways at our high schools currently, but we want to start it in middle school to hopefully build that foundation now in middle school," Middleton said.

This is just the beginning for students in Burke County. The school system hopes students will eventually gain college credits through their computer science courses and be a model for other rural school systems.

"We want to be the rural hub for cyber education because we know about everything going on in Augusta right now as far as cyber education, but it doesn't always reach out to the rural areas of the Augusta metropolitan area," Middleton said. "We want to try and bridge that gap with other rural areas here in Burke County."

Burke County is the only school in the CSRA who was awarded the grant for the 2019-2020 school year. However, Columbia County and Richmond County schools already have similar programs.

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