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Culpeper Technology Center offers training for teens and adults

The first thing you see walking into Culpeper Technology center is not technology, but tables: foosball, ping pong and pool.

“We wanted there to be an area where kids could both play and study after school,” said Michael Katz, operations manager. “But we will also be offering summer camp programs, night classes for adults, seniors courses and more.”

Behind the game room is the heart of the business – the technology-rich study area. There is a classroom, smart TVs, printers, laptop computers and tablets. There is also a snack bar.

Katz said he and partner Jerry Dossey have spent the past 60 days remodeling the space and preparing for the Jan. 24 grand opening.

'We have only been open for a few days and we have already had a lot of interest,” Katz said. “We plan to offer the full spectrum of services to adults, kids and businesses.”

With a monthly membership, middle and high school students will be able to stop by CTC to do homework, work on projects or get hands-on experience doing such things as designing and building websites and creating mobile apps.

Adults who pay the fee may use any of the equipment. There will be a daily rate and a monthly rate.

“Some adults may want to use this as their 'home office' or as a place to get out of the house and do some networking or learning of new skills,” said Katz. “We will also be able to host conferences here for up to 45 people.”

One of the cornerstones of Culpeper Technology Center will be the 10-week summer camps for students.

“We will be offering a different course each week and students will be able to pick and choose what courses they wish to attend,” said Dossey, the instructor and webmaster. “If they only want to come for one week, that's fine. Or they can sign up for every week.”

Collaborative learning

Dossey is the founder of XHTML, a web design company that is merging into Culpeper Technology Center.

“We want to provide local students and young professionals with an enjoyable and entertaining learning atmosphere that encompasses 21st century study skills in an open and collaborative environment,” Katz and Dossey write on their Facebook page.

Dossey said each computer at CTC will come equipped with Microsoft Office Suite for both business and personal applications. He is looking forward to working with students.

“I enjoy anything that has to do with computers,” he said. “It's hard to get me off of them. And I like to see kids learn. I've worked with Little League teams and it is so cool when you see a child be able to accomplish something that they couldn't before.”

Dossey said the students fees will be “about $69 per week” and that gives a student full access to not only the technology and the games, but also to his expertise.

Students who sign up for summer camp courses at $300 per week will receive a Nexus 7 tablet when they pay their class registration fee. The tablet is theirs to keep and is loaded with all the textbooks and resource materials they will need for the class.”

“Kids will be able to come in here anytime we are open,” he said. “Many of them have ideas for websites or apps, but don't have the knowledge to develop them. I can help with that. And if a kid develops an app and it is picked up by I-tunes or Google any money they get from downloads will be theirs.”

Sign up special

CTC is running a grand opening special. If a student signs up before Jan. 31, they will get the remainder of January and all of February for $150.

Katz said the best way to keep up on special deals, class offerings and contests is through the Culpeper Technology Center Facebook page.

“We hope kids and their parents will come to the open house,” Katz said. “They can check us out, use the equipment and play games.”
However, Katz stressed that Culpeper Technology is not a “come in and play games facility, it's a come in and learn facility. The games are just here for breaks.”

Katz said that CTC wants to also be active in the community.

“We are part of the chamber and we want to make available the classes that people in the community need and want,” he said. “We will offer a lot of introductory classes for adults in such things as web and graphic design and the use of social media. Later on we want to add 'lunch and learn' classes for seniors who might not feel comfortable with technology. Some of them just don't know what exits or how to get started. We can help with that.”

Dossey used Skype as an example.

“A lot of grandparents don't understand Skype or know how easy it is to use,” he said. “Once they understand it they can Skype with their kids or grandkids and actually see and talk to them in real time.”

Although CTC is learning-focused, both men agreed there is a place for fun.

“The whole idea is to make this an enjoyable learning environment,” Dossey said. “We want kids to feel like they're coming in here to create, not go to school. Kids often get ideas when they're playing, though, so we might take a break from class and shoot Nerf guns. You're at your most creative when you're a kid. They have the ideas and we have the knowledge.

“I use Steve Jobs (Apple founder), Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) as examples of kids who were already succeeding while in high school. Instead of kids playing video games at home, why not work on creating a video game here? Who knows, one of the kids who comes in here might have the next million-dollar idea.”

Katz stressed that Culpeper Technology Center's student programs are meant to supplement what students get in school.

“We absolutely want to work with the school system,” he said. “We will do everything we can to implement programs and provide training that adds to what they are already learning in school and provides plenty of opportunities for 'real world' experience.”

Randi Richards-Lutz, the Career and Technical Administrator for the Culpeper County School System, shares the owners enthusiasm for their new venture. For several years Richards-Lutz has been instrumental in coordinating the county's E-Squared program which partners local businesses with teams of students. Each year scholarships are awarded to students for their business models which inevitably involve high tech applications.

“This is an exciting time for Culpeper ―the addition of Culpeper Technology Center to our community is needed. I welcome the opportunity to work with CTC in partnership or to compliment one another. I commend them on offering opportunities such as senior's courses and summer camps,h said Richards-Lutz.

Info Box:
Name: Culpeper Technology Center
Owners: Michael Katz and Jerry Dossey
Address: 15167 Montanus Drive
Phone: 825-2901
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday
Facebook: Culpeper Technology Center
E-mail: contact@culpepertechnology.com
Official ribbon cutting: Jan. 24 at 5 p.m.

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