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Culpeper center offers technology training for kids, others


Two Culpeper business owners have teamed up to provide students with a safe place to hang out and get hands-on training in such things as web design.

Jerry Dossey of XHTML–Layouts and Michael Katz of Culpeper Credit are opening the Culpeper Technology Center in a converted storefront at 15167 Montanus Drive. It will provide two types of after-school programs beginning Jan. 7.

“There’s not a lot for kids to do after school in Culpeper,” said Dossey. “The idea is to give them a place to go where they can be creative and learn some of the new technologies.”

Parents of students in grades 6 to 12 can sign them up for access to the center, which is equipped with laptops, tablets and printers. The 2,800 square-foot facility also includes a large game room equipped with ping pong, foosball, air hockey and a pool table, where students can relax and get their creative juices flowing, he said.

For an additional fee, they can take classes to learn about skills such as designing a website or creating phone apps and video games. A 10-week program will be available in the summer.

Dossey and Katz also plan to offer access while school is in session to adults who need a place to work, hold meetings or training sessions. They’ll be able to brainstorm with others using the space, and can ask Dossey for assistance if they get stuck on a project.

A weekly “lunch-and-learn” program for seniors is in the works as well. Topics may include such things as mobile banking.

Dossey and Katz came up with the idea for the center after Dossey started kicking around ways for students to help him come up with web designs for his clients.

“I might design three or four sites for a client, and they’ll pick one,” he said. “If I have kids help me after school, they’re young, they’re creative, they think outside the box. Nobody’s taught them that this is the way things need to be done.”

They could help him come up with more designs, Dossey said, and he could provide them with real-world experience and a chance to build a portfolio of work that could help land them a job or get into the college of their choice.

Katz, whose wife is a teacher, liked the idea. Together they decided to turn what was initially just a summer school into a more sustainable year-round operation.

The need is there, according to the center’s website, Applied computer technology isn’t a standard class in schools, yet students need to know how to use—and possibly invent—new technologies.

Dossey is merging his web-design business with the center, and will have an office in the back of the center. He’ll be in charge of training, while Katz will handle the finances and continue running Culpeper Credit.

The business partners plan to charge students $299 a month for access to the center. Adults will pay less, but charge hasn’t been determined. The initial registration fee for classes will include a choice of three different Google Nexus 7 tablets at a discount price.

“You get the tablet,” Dossey said, “and it standardizes what the kids use so we can disseminate textbooks to the devices.”

The Culpeper Technical Center normally will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, although there will be night classes for small businesses one week per month.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407