It is my pleasure to write a testimonial for RP4K.
My name is Dr. Margarita (Rita) Vinnikov. I was employed by RP4K as a part-time game programming instructor/on-location-supervisor since 2004. During my 12 years with the organization, I acquired multiple degrees including a Bachelor in Education and a PhD in Computer Science, while teaching game programming to hundreds of RP4K students aged 7 to 17 years. I taught in multiple locations in various cities throughout Ontario (Richmond Hill, Toronto, Oakville, Oshawa, Ottawa, Markham, and Newmarket).
I was recently offered an XR and Serious Gaming Assistant Professor position at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. I believe that I was offered this position primarily due to my long history of teaching for RP4K. Moreover, RP4K had a powerful impact on my technical and professional skills. When I was working at RP4K, I had to teach game programming using different languages such as Visual Basic, Java, C#, and C++. At I time, I had to switch languages every hour. Also, there was one course where I taught Java and Visual Basic simultaneously. Therefore, when someone asks me if there is a particular language I prefer, I don't have one, as thanks to my intense training, I feel very fluent with all. Other times, I was asked to teach programs and languages that are not usually offered by the school (Scratch and OpenGL), but I was able to quickly learn the new language and develop teaching strategies and material adequate for RP4K students. Once again, this helped me later in my graduate studies where I was also able to learn new things quickly for the purpose of developing new software or teaching a new course. Besides, when teaching RP4K courses, instructors have to monitor up to 4 students writing code, and so they learn to debug codes very quickly. This skill was beneficial for my work as a developer. Finally, my choices and accomplishments in thesis and dissertation topics for my master’s and Ph.D. would not be possible without RP4K.
Since I have received a bachelor’s in education, I can evaluate and appreciate the pedagogical philosophy of the teaching approach taken by RP4K. This hands-on style of teaching works well with different types of learners, it allows younger students to stay concentrated for a longer time, and it develops problem skills that can be used for other subjects and different life situations. I wish RP4K would open additional locations in the USA, as I would love for my children to take programming courses with RP4K.
I cannot complete this letter without talking about the people I have met during my work. First of all, the energy you feel working alongside RP4K instructors is fantastic and inspiring. The passion for games, program development, and the students, make everyone very energized and motivated. Also, the students who take RP4K are very intelligent. Regardless of their age, they pick up difficult concepts that I have seen university students struggle with, very quickly.
Finally, I am very honored to work alongside the founders of RP4K. Both Elliot and Cindy have been an inspiration for me and true role models.
Dr. Margarita Vinnikov,
Department of Informatics,