Mike Ferrera has been teaching with CodeWizardsHQ for more than two years, but before that his career could have taken a very different path. We’re definitely glad he decided to focus on computer science!

A Lifelong Love of Coding

While Mike was already teaching kids how to code in his local area when he found CodeWizardsHQ, his love of coding started much earlier.

Mike playing video games

“I was an avid video game player my whole life and I just kind of wanted to know how everything worked,” he says. “I finally got an internet connection by 1998 and I actually made my first website. I didn’t use the template engine, I built it from scratch, which I was very proud of myself for. I thought it was amazing and it just went from there, so really this is a lifelong thing for me.”

While studying computer science, Mike got interested in recording and took a detour to work as a sound engineer. 

“I got to sit in on sessions with many noteworthy and famous people. It was a cool experience, but I actually went back to computers because it’s really not a very good way to make a living,” he explains. “I went back to computer programming, and I’ve been in it ever since.”

Connecting With His Students

Since starting with CodeWizardsHQ, Mike has taught elementary, middle, and high school courses, but he does have some favorites.

“I like teaching like the middle school JavaScript class because that gets them into merging HTML, CSS, and actual interactivity via JavaScript,” he says. “That one also has one of my favorite projects, which is the pixel art editor.”

He also enjoys sharing his love of video games with his students, especially since that’s a common interest with so many of our students.

“I tell them that I got into coding through really being into video games. I’m an avid collector, so I show them some of my collection, because I’ve got some rare stuff in there, and they always seem to like that.”

Coding Classes for Kids

Although he has his favorite projects and classes to teach, what sticks with Mike the most is when he’s able to help a student breakthrough and fully understand a coding concept.

“Earlier in my tenure here, I had a student who was really having trouble with just the general Python concepts. We’d gotten you know to the level where we were doing user defined functions and stuff like that and it just wasn’t clicking with them. So they signed up for an office hours with me and we’d gone through the curriculum, but I also made sure I had my text editor open and I gave him just a lot of simple examples in there of how the data passes along – you put this here, it moves to here, gets stored here, and it moves over here. After that session they were always really fast even in class, they never had any more hang-ups, it was great.”

A World Full of Computers

Mike and his wife hiking

As much as he gives to his students, Mike is a busy guy outside of class, too. In addition to freelance programming work, he also has multiple businesses he’s working on, and he just got his real estate license. In the free time he does have, he enjoys hiking, skateboarding, and playing guitar, an instrument he’s played since childhood. And of course he also still loves video games.

Although video games were what initially got him interested in coding, as an adult Mike now understands the many benefits to learning how to program.

“You look around you and have so many things that are computerized. One of the things that I thought was great in the Intro to Python lesson that we have here is showing that really computers are everywhere, even in places you wouldn’t think. I always take that a step further with students and give them the true definition of a computer, which is anything that contains a digital object circuit. So literally your microwave with the little number dial, that’s a computer in a way. It’s all around you, so it’s a good thing to know how to actually build and interact in the modern world.”