The successful Microsoft TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) industry-wide initiative will expand to seven Phoenix area high schools for this school year.
TEALS is a grassroots program that recruits, trains, mentors and places software engineers and computer scientists from across the tech industry into high school classrooms as volunteer teachers. They work specifically in schools in need of computer science (CS) courses and teachers.
TEALS volunteers participate in a team teaching model to eventually hand off the introductory or advanced computer science course to the classroom teacher, so that the school can grow a sustainable CS program on their own. The program started in Seattle.
Kevin Wang, TEALS founder and Microsoft program manager, made the announcement in May to a group of local business and tech industry leaders.
“Many things we interact with on a daily basis are powered by computer science, but the vast majority of high schools students don’t have access to this rewarding and challenging field of study because only ten percent of U.S. high schools teach it today,” said Wang. “Engineers and computer scientists across the tech industry have an opportunity to help our high schools build a sustainable computer science program—school by school—by volunteering with TEALS and making a real difference in each student’s life. This issue is bigger than any one company and needs all of us in the industry to come together and solve it as one.”
“The growing entrepreneurial ecosystem we all want—that we’ve all worked hard to create—is already demanding top talent from STEM fields,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “We need to grow that talent right here at home. And through this initiative, we have the potential to make a real impact on our education pipeline.”
Wang presented the case for increasing computer science graduates, stating each year 80,000 positions in the United States requiring a computer science graduates go unfilled. In Arizona, only 266 Advance Placement (AP) CS exams were taken by public school students in May 2014—that’s only 0.5 percent of all AP exams taken by public school students in the state.
Nearly 500 TEALS volunteers from across the tech sector currently serve with more than 130 schools in 18 states plus Washington, D.C. TEALS and the city of Phoenix are looking to the local tech sector to participate in the initiative. To find out how you or your company can participate or apply to volunteer with TEALS, visit http://www.tealsk12.org.