Supporting low income students in Quincy schools with STEM training
Spurring students’ interest in computer science and technology
With the development of Quincy as a prime location for cloud computing datacenters, Quincy schools are actively working to foster homegrown talent by interesting more students in technology and computer science. By joining the Technology, Education, and Literacy in the Schools (TEALS) program, the schools are doing that and more.
Sponsored by a variety of high-tech companies including Microsoft, TEALS helps high schools build and grow sustainable computer science programs through partnerships between classroom teachers and tech industry volunteers. Oftentimes, these students are economically disadvantaged—for example, 89 percent in Quincy qualify for free or reduced-price lunch—and don’t have much exposure to the computer science professions.
Microsoft TEALS is in its third year at Quincy High School and is rapidly growing. In its first year, Mr. Kondo, the school’s computer science teacher, had computer science professionals use Skype to interact with his class of 22 students. Now, Mr. Kondo leads the introductory class on his own, while still getting support for the advanced class now being offered. In this way, TEALS helps empower the teachers at the schools as well.
Bringing TEALS to other communities
The program has expanded to other communities over time, and Microsoft now also has TEALS involvement at Soap Lake High School and Moses Lake High School, schools that are considered economically disadvantaged as well. Therefore, Microsoft has committed to pay the $5,000 cost for the Microsoft professional volunteers to travel to the classrooms several times throughout the year. Helping the program succeed in these schools is easily worth the investment for Microsoft.
TEALS involvement has spurred Quincy to expand its STEAM offerings (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). The schools and TEALS volunteers are working to diversify the cultural mix and draw more young women and other underrepresented groups into the program as well.
The work today to bring more students, and more diversity among students, into the computer science field means better workers tomorrow for high-tech companies like Microsoft—and makes those companies better as well.