December 16, 2022

Essex County Payne Tech Starts Game Development Program

High School in Newark, New Jersey brings an award-winning computer science curriculum to students.

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Essex County Payne Tech’s newest addition to its curricula will provide award-winning computer science education - and industry certification pathways to its students. Part of the Essex County Schools of Technology District, located in Newark, New Jersey, this pioneering school has partnered with Mastery Coding to expand its coding and game development curricula. 

Torben Bernhard, lead curriculum writer for Mastery Coding
"If a student is curious and wants to make games, they absolutely can" - Torben Bernhard

The newly added courses, Game Development Foundations and Game Development 1, leverage the excitement of creating games to teach computer science, mathematics, and problem-solving. Students use custom JavaScript engines, the PixilArt editor, C#, and the Unity Engine to build games while learning computational thinking, 2D and 3D design, and game development principles. Along the way, students build an impressive portfolio of projects and strengthen relevant STEM concepts they’ve learned in other bell-schedule courses. 

Mastery Coding is looking forward to the impact this partnership will have on the future success of Essex County School District’s students. By providing an equitable coding curriculum, Essex County Payne Tech is supporting its students’ passion for STEM, creating pathways for developing valuable industry skills, and strengthening the focus on career exploration and SEL skills.

The principal writer of Game Development 1, Torben Bernhard, shared his enthusiasm about making the curriculum available to students at Payne Tech. “While the course is designed to teach students how to design and program games and simulations, I see it more as an opportunity to dispel the idea that coding is too complicated for most students. If a student is curious and wants to make games, they absolutely can,” said Bernhard.  He is confident that this course will provide students with new opportunities for creativity, problem-solving, and STEM exploration. Game Development 1 “allows students to take something they’re passionate or curious about and not just experience it, but create it too!”

Essex County Payne Tech has a long history of making career and technical education a staple of its curriculum. Robert Funesti, Essex County’s Teacher of Web and Game Design and Development reported that “the opportunities in our school help the students to narrow down their interests and […] give them a framework in which to pursue their career goals once they leave our district”. In an effort to expand the opportunities that their course provides their students, Funesti sees Mastery Coding as a perfect option. “We’re interested in providing certifications in Game Development, and see MC as a resource to help us achieve that,” said Funesti. 

Essex County Payne Tech logo

The Essex County Schools of Technology district is one of the oldest and largest in New Jersey and serves a diverse population of students. The district has a wide variety of sophisticated facilities and equipment through which it provides instruction in over 30 career and technical clusters! As a school focused on preparing students for the future, extra emphasis is placed on keeping their curriculum up to date with modern technology and growing trends in the job market. 

For these reasons, Mastery Coding believes that this partnership is a perfect fit. With goals of providing students with pathways to industry-recognized certifications, job opportunities, and in-demand skills, the students at Essex County Payne Tech are equipped to pursue their dreams and be successful in their future careers.

Mastery Coding looks forward to this partnership with such a remarkable school and set of faculty, staff, and students. 

Welcome to the Mastery Coding family, Essex County!

About Mastery Coding

Using a research-based approach to instruction, we provide standards-based computer science, esports, and STEM curriculum that combines critical thinking with project-based fun.

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Olivia has background in behavioral ecology and data analysis. She develops and implements SEO, CRO, social media strategy, and authors multi-disciplinary content for our blog, & our social media sites. She's contributed to many of the STEM tie-ins within our curriculum, authored our SEL course, and is a specialist in neurodiverse learning strategies.

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