(Contributed photo)

Code Ninjas Fort Mill recently recognized one of its own with the prestigious Sensei of the Year award.

Ashley Hogg, a recent college graduate, who has worked at Code Ninjas since November 2019, was awarded this month based on the positive impact she has made on Code Ninjas’ culture, students and fellow Senseis.

Code Senseis are an intricate part of each Code Ninjas location and have a direct impact on each ninja that comes through their door. From teaching curriculum and creating a positive and safe environment in which the ninjas can grow to providing feedback to parents and contributing to sales, marketing and team leadership, Senseis are a critical part Code Ninjas Fort Mill.

“We are beyond excited to recognize Ashley as one of the Senseis of the Year,” said Christina Lazar, owner of Code Ninjas Fort Mill. “Working with Ashley has been an incredible experience and her dedication to helping children in our community grow and learn in a fun, yet challenging way is inspiring. It’s Ashley’s abundant love for teaching, children and computer science that makes her irreplaceable and the perfect fit for Code Ninjas, and vice versa! We can’t wait to see what the future holds for her both inside and outside our center.”

Ashley started at Code Ninjas Fort Mill while she was still a student at Coker University, majoring in computer science. She was originally a children’s education major before switching to computer science, and felt that when she started at Code Ninjas it combined her love for both.

After graduation, Ashley became a full-time Sensei taking over the center’s JR program. The Fort Mill location was one of the early pilot centers offering this program, and Ashley was pivotal in its success. Not long after starting in her role, Ashley quickly moved up the ladder as Lead Sensei and Summer Camp Director.

Owners Christina and Joe Lazar are shown with Ashley Hogg, center.

When the pandemic struck, Ashley spearheaded the virtual program, creating engaging videos and content and even working with the Home Office team on projects that benefitted the entire franchise. Her dedication and thoughtfulness shined through when she hand-delivered over 40 swag bags to the ninjas’ front doors to make sure they knew how much they were missed.

This ultimately showed how much of an impact Ashley made and how grateful the ninjas are for her when students were continuously enrolling for additional weeks of camp.

At Code Ninjas Fort Mill, children ages 7-14 learn how to code in a fun, safe, and social learning environment where gaming is celebrated, and STEM is cool. Code Ninjas Fort Mill offers kids the opportunity to dive into fun, challenging, and rewarding projects and activities that will engage them with knowledge for potential future careers and also bring out skill sets they never knew they had.

Everything about Code Ninjas is built around fun, which keeps kids coming back. Code Ninjas built a robust, game-based curriculum made up of nine belts, just like martial arts. The curriculum is self-paced, but not self-taught; kids get immediate help and encouragement from Senseis and fellow students as they advance from white to black belt.

The program keeps kids motivated with little wins along the way, and “Belt-Up” celebrations where they receive color-coded wristbands to mark their graduation to the next level. By the time a child finishes the program, they will publish an app in an app store.

Greg "Ricky Bobby" Rickabaugh has lived in the Fort Mill and York County community since 2006. He has covered the area while a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and a freelance writer for The Fort Mill...