Have you ever met someone who is capable of lighting up a room no matter the circumstances? Well, let us take a moment to introduce you to LaToria Foy, Ed Farm’s Workforce Coordinator.
LaToria joined the team in August 2019 with a servant’s heart for her community and its school system. “I am from Birmingham, and I went to Birmingham City Schools. I am excited about the work Ed Farm is doing with the school system. If students know more [about computer science] at an early age, they might better understand the [job] opportunities that are available to them in the future,” said LaToria.
Thankfully, LaToria was exposed to computer science and web design during her time at Ramsay High School. That early exposure inspired her to take a course on the Python programming language while earning her undergraduate degree in mathematics at University of Alabama.
“It re-introduced me to computer science. I had to drop the class the first time I enrolled in it, because I had a heavy workload, and I knew I needed to give my full attention to learning the language,” she said. “I enrolled in the course again, and we had a final project that required us to recreate the Battleship board game using Python. I worked with a partner, and, together, we earned an A in the course.”
After graduating from University of Alabama, LaToria took a job as an analyst with a bank so she could utilize her mathematics skills. During that time, she came across an invitation from Lawson State Community College for a free night course on the Swift programming language.
“I wanted to create a mobile app and build on my knowledge of programming so I enrolled in the course,” said LaToria. Through that experience, she met Dr. Kesha James, Director of Distance Education at Lawson State. The two formed a strong bond, and, at the end of the course, Dr. James extended a surprising invitation to LaToria.
“Dr. James asked me to facilitate a Swift course for Lawson. I ended up teaching two bootcamps for adult learners,” said LaToria. Another friend and advocate emerged during this period of time — Dr. James Gray, Workforce Development Manager for Lawson State. Both Dr. Gray and Dr. James worked alongside Ed Farm during its formative stages, and, throughout their interactions with the leadership team, they often referenced LaToria and her talents.
“Dr. Gray told me about the Workforce Coordinator position with Ed Farm. I decided to apply because I was really excited about the work the organization was doing in Birmingham,” said LaToria. Soon after applying for the position, LaToria joined the team and immediately started prepping for the pilot version of Ed Farm’s Pathways course.
“I want to take a two generation approach to teaching and learning,” said LaToria. “I want to see BCS students and families learning to code together.”
Her vision is quickly becoming a reality. For the first official Pathways cohort — which launched in January 2020 — Ed Farm partnered with BCS to promote the class to families across the district using the school system’s mobile app. Numerous adults in Birmingham submitted applications because of the promotional strategy, resulting in several BCS family members participating in the first Pathways cohort. One of those parents was Teresa H. Thomas (learn more about Teresa’s journey with Ed Farm here).
As LaToria continues to look forward and think about ways to inspire women of all ages to pursue careers in STEM, she has a strong message to share: “Don’t let your predetermined notion of what people in STEM ‘look like’ keep you from pursuing your goals — you can do it. Do not give up.”
If you’d like to connect with LaToria, you can reach her at email@example.com. For more information on Pathways, click here.