Albert Lee

Albert Lee

Albert Lee transitioned out of a job in supply chain analysis in the auto industry and is looking for work in data analysis; in the meantime, he volunteers four days a week at a Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) AP Computer Science class at Detroit’s Renaissance High School. TEALS relies on industry volunteers from more than 400 companies to co-teach CS with classroom educators and develop sustainable CS programs across the country. By sharing his nontraditional path of learning CS, Lee shows his 35 students that they can succeed in the tech industry—regardless of their background.

At first glance, I’m absolutely the wrong person to teach high schoolers computer science: I did terribly in my first computer science class, which I took as a freshman engineering student at the University of Michigan. I remember in particular one project, which I spent more than 30 hours working on—and I scored 15%.

Now that I volunteer in a TEALS AP Computer Science classroom, I tell my students that story. I laugh thinking about their expressions when I told them about that score: It was as if they were physically hurt because they could feel my pain. It’s probably not typical for teachers to share how poorly they did when taking the class’s subject in school, but my nontraditional path to computer science demonstrates to my students that failure isn’t permanent. In fact, messing up is part of the process of learning a subject like computer science.

After that first CS class, I vowed to avoid the subject at any cost. But later, when I was working as a supply chain analyst in the auto industry, I realized that much of my job could be automated using—you guessed it—computer science. So I went online and taught myself what I didn’t grasp as a freshman, and I ended up making my job much more efficient through coding.

I didn’t catch on to the benefits of computer science immediately, but you can bet I am 100% on-board now. I am living proof to my students that understanding and being able to use computer science can help in a whole range of careers.

What’s more, by sharing the story of my first (and dismal) experience with computer science, I reiterate that there’s reason why I’m good at what I do—and it’s not because I’m some genius. I’m successful because I spend the time banging my head against a wall figuring out how to do hard problems. There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in debugging project or not understanding a concept the first time around.

About 85% of the students in my class say they’re comfortable and confident in computer science class, and nearly half plan to take more coding classes in the future. That bodes well for their future, considering the number of openings that require computer science skills.

Even for the ones that go on to do something unrelated to technology, computer science has taught them a growth mindset, where it’s ok to mess up. In our class, we’re constantly debugging projects, and that’s not because my students aren’t smart. Our students are used to finding and fixing issues in their code, and they’ll bring that nonjudgmental approach to their work no matter what they pursue.

I think my belief in them really matters. They know that they’ll end up facing some stigmas, having come from an urban community; plenty of people will be skeptical of their abilities, when, they’re lightyears ahead of where I was at their age. The average student in my class has written 4,000 lines of code this year, and my colleagues in the field are always blown away when I show them the projects they’ve created. That’s why it’s so important for me to tell them how much confidence I have in their ability to achieve whatever they want—in computer science and beyond.

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Son inspires dad to school students on CS

Ralph Case

Ralph Case, a project manager at DELL and long-term volunteer with TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools), has helped teach dozens of students and three new computer science teachers in Washington State high schools over the past three years. TEALS relies on industry volunteers from more than 400 companies to co-teach CS with classroom educators across the country. Ralph has witnessed how volunteering can change the trajectory of young people’s lives and open up an entire world of opportunity. 

When my son was a senior in high school, he took a computer science class and struggled. He had worked with computers before, but CS was different, and not what he expected. He and I would spend time together going over the material, and as we walked step by step through the concepts, I could see my son gaining a better understanding of computer science.

He told me, “Dad, you’re really good at explaining this. You should volunteer and help other students, too.” I had thought about how I could help more young people be introduced to computer science, a subject that’s just as (if not more) important than other core topics like biology or music or French because it opens doors for young people—regardless of whether or not they pursue CS as a career.

Yet it’s difficult to fill computer science teaching jobs with people who are truly knowledgeable about CS, and less than half of all high schools in the U.S. offer computer science classes, so I knew I could contribute.

The fall after my son encouraged me, I began volunteering in an AP Computer Science classroom through TEALS. The time and energy I’ve invested in classrooms over the last three years has helped fill the CS teaching gap. I continue to be inspired by the young people and teachers I have helped teach.

One day, I bumped into an ex-student of mine at the store, and he told me he was pursuing computer science in college. He said that I had a big impact on him—that my encouragement had helped him decide what to do with his life.

That moment is a highlight of my time volunteering with TEALS. The student had struggled in class and didn’t have the same background and advantages others enjoyed, but he worked hard. Sometimes he’d get discouraged in class, but I was proud he found it in himself to persevere. Those that are least likely to have access to computer science are young people of color, girls, and those from disadvantaged economic backgrounds, so I was especially proud that this young man discovered a passion through TEALS and gained the confidence to follow it.

Being a professional in the classroom also allowed me to show him and my other students the real-world applications of what they learned in the course—and that it’s completely normal to struggle. I can tell them that I know professionals who have worked in CS for decades who also have a hard time with a given concept or problem. I tell students, “You’re struggling not because you’re dumb but because this is hard.” Yes, it’s hard—but it’s worthwhile.

The same can be said of volunteering with TEALS. It’s a big commitment, but I’ve found not only personal rewards but professional ones as well. I think of myself as a teacher at work now, too. As a manager, I structure the work on my team to maximize learning so we all grow and bring more to the organization.

After I started volunteering to teach computer science with TEALS, I had a conversation with my son, who’s now in college. I thanked him for giving me the kick I needed to lend my expertise in a CS class. Because of his encouragement, I have helped dozens of students directly, not to mention the many young people who will attend classes of the teachers I helped train, too.

When you’re in the classroom, teaching both students and the classroom teacher, you’re giving opportunities, insight, perspective, motivation and skills they wouldn’t get if volunteers weren’t there. We computer professionals have the power to make students’ education and lives better. With TEALS, I can make that happen.

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This mentor shows girls a female face of computer science

Arti Gupta

Arti Gupta, a software development engineer at Microsoft, is also a volunteer teacher in a TEALS AP Computer Science class. TEALS relies on industry volunteers from more than 400 companies to co-teach CS with classroom teachers in high schools across the country. Arti has volunteered for two years at Woodinville High School in Washington State, where it’s no exaggeration to say she has changed the lives of her students.

Everyone wants to make a difference in the world; I’m no exception. When I was looking for a way to leave my mark, I thought of the support I received from professors and TAs when I first discovered computer science. They are a big reason I stuck with this tough path in school and pursued it as a career.

I wanted to be that encouraging force, giving confidence and skills to young people to pursue computer science. With TEALS, I directly impact the lives of students while also building a sustainable CS program that will impact generations to come.

But the influence my fellow volunteer teachers and I have goes beyond teaching kids to code. We’re changing students’ minds about what a career in computer science can be—and what a programmer can look like.

My being a woman who’s a software development engineer is not lost on my students. Young women have told me I’m a role model for them. Having someone like me, who is successful and happy in a programming career, to look up to shows it’s possible for them to thrive in this field, too. Girls may find it intimidating to pursue CS, which is yet another reason why we need more relatable role models—real live tech professionals volunteering, mentoring and showing that diversity does exist in the computer science field.

I’ll never forget the students I’ve taught, some of whom have gone on to study computer science, informatics and engineering. Yet too many other young people out there still don’t have access to computer science education. Only 1 in 4 U.S. high schools offers rigorous CS education courses. I can’t help but think about what those students are missing—that they are at risk of being left behind in a complex world transformed by technology. And the world is at risk of missing out on the ideas, creativity and solutions that diverse CS professionals could bring.

While I’m incredibly proud of the work we do and inspired by my students’ passion, our work isn’t done. Getting more students—especially girls—interested in computer science is a challenge but one we must take on together.

To learn more about TEALS or apply to volunteer, visit

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Amazon developer volunteers for the good of students and the tech industry

Navya Prakash

Navya Prakash teaches CS – and keeps her day job – at Seattle’s Academy for Precision Learning (APL), a school with students impacted by autism or other learning disabilities. This is the first time a TEALS course has been taught in a school with students who are all impacted by autism or other learning disabilities.

Navya is a software development engineer at Amazon, where she works in the Kindle education organization. She also volunteers as a co-teacher in TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools), the grassroots computer science education program supported by Microsoft Philanthropies. TEALS relies on professionals from more than 400 different tech companies nationwide. These volunteers bring computer science to high school students who wouldn’t have access to that education otherwise; they also train teachers to take over the class, freeing volunteers to bring the program to even more schools. By building sustainable computer science education programs from coast to coast, TEALS reaches more than 10,000 students each year.

One of many good things about the software industry is that there are so few developers and so many developing jobs, you have the opportunity to choose a job that’s fulfilling to you. You don’t have to settle but can find something where you feel like you’re making a difference in an area you care about. That’s what I’m doing in Amazon’s education organization, where I work to make Kindle textbooks more accessible to teachers and students.

I didn’t want to stop there, though; I wanted to contribute more to the area of technology and education. So, when I moved back to Seattle after college and my high school computer science teacher told me about TEALS, I decided to apply. I’ve been teaching in a TEALS computer science classroom since this fall, and I feel incredible about the difference my fellow volunteers, our classroom teacher and I have made so far.

Opportunities in computer science are even more powerful for the students I teach, who are impacted by autism. Learning about careers in programming, and meeting actual professionals like me and my fellow TEALS volunteers, shows them that they don’t have to be held back by their disability. If you can demonstrate your skills in coding, you don’t need to be able to do presentations or public speaking.

The thing that most surprised me about TEALS was that it gave me a way to create a huge impact in students’ lives without sacrificing anything in my own career. Sure, I teach several hours a week and committed time to being trained in the curriculum, but I can still pursue my goals at work.

Volunteering in a TEALS classroom also reteaches me what I love about computer science. After all, we developers sometimes get so bogged down by getting things done and delivering a product that we forget what drew us here in the first place.

Explaining programming concepts to high schoolers reminds me how you piece together solutions for huge problems bit by bit. Seeing my students discover the same satisfaction from logic and problem-solving that I get from programming is amazing—I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience.

Not all of my students will end up as software engineers, and that’s ok—that’s not the point of TEALS. But giving them this opportunity to learn programming early helps them figure out if they do want to pursue computer science. What’s more, when they encounter software programs elsewhere, whether that’s in law or fashion design, they won’t feel intimidated or need to rely on someone else to understand.

The biggest barrier for others volunteering with TEALS is simply not knowing about this life-changing program. But we need more people to jump in. We in the software industry have a responsibility to ensure the next generation of young people is prepared to contribute to computer science—the field we all love. That’s what I’m doing every week when I work with my amazing students. I see the difference I’m making for the future—and for these hard-working, inspiring teens.

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Volunteer shows kids they belong in computer science

Mariah Breakey

Mariah Breakey is a software development engineer at Microsoft and a volunteer teacher with TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools). She spends several mornings a week in a TEALS computer science (CS) class in Seattle’s Academy for Precision Learning (APL), a unique school that focuses on educating children impacted by autism. APL is the first school of its kind to incorporate TEALS, the Microsoft Philanthropies-supported grassroots initiative that brings computer science education to high schools without CS programs. Volunteers from across the technology industry instruct students and co-teach with the classroom teacher so the teacher can later take over the course, helping create sustainable high school CS programs across the country.

When I was in high school, I loved math, so I decided to try computers, too. I ended up in an IT class of almost all boys who already knew how to take apart hardware. Meanwhile, I had no idea what was going on, since I had never had experience in anything in IT or computers. I felt so out of place, so left behind, that it confirmed my belief that computers were a “guy thing” and they just weren’t for me. For the rest of high school, I continued to take—and love—math classes, but I avoided further tech and computer science courses.

Fast forward to college: I had to take a programming class sophomore year as a requirement for my math major. It was so different from my high school class, which relied on a giant, dry textbook about how computers are built. Instead, the class taught me that computer science is about solving puzzles and logic problems—the very things that drew me to my math major. It was fun, it was exciting. I fell in love. That class put me on a path to earn a degree in computer science and begin a career in technology.

In my career, I was looking for a way to ensure young people didn’t miss the chance to give computer science a try, like I almost did. A friend told me about TEALS, and I signed up. Volunteering in a TEALS classroom has been more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined.

Although teaching is sometimes frustrating—like when it feels like I’ll never figure out a way to convey a concept in a way the kids understand—that challenge makes it even more rewarding. What’s more, since this is the first TEALS class made up of all students impacted by autism, we’ve had to learn by trial and error. My fellow volunteers and I talk every week and meet up once a month to talk through challenges and recap successes.

We’ve tailored the TEALS program to our class and to each individual student, since this class is the first to focus on students on the autism spectrum. Each high schooler works at his or her own pace, and we customize projects to their understanding. For example, we’ll set up the blocks of a program to get students started but will leave more for the advanced students to do on their own. That way, no one is left behind, and no one feels like they don’t belong, like I did.

My students are persistent, and now I’m seeing the results of their mastery. Not long ago, one of my students returned to a calendar project we’d earlier done as a class. On her own time, she decided to program names for each of the 52 weeks of the year, just as we had named each month. That showed me my students aren’t just reciting definitions or mimicking my examples. They’re using their new skills to create something as unique as they are.

I wish I could have realized how much I love coding earlier instead of having to play catchup halfway through college. If I had taken a class like TEALS, I would have found this passion much sooner. That’s why I love volunteering as a TEALS teacher. My students see all the cool things they can create through code. They realize that yes, computer science is for them.

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Volunteers from tech competitors grow new generation of computer scientists

Minh T. Nguyen

Minh T. Nguyen is a senior software engineer at Google in New York, and he also volunteers at Frederick Douglass Academy in a TEALS AP computer science classroom. TEALS, a grassroots program supported by Microsoft Philanthropies, has brought tech professionals into the Harlem high school to teach the AP curriculum, train the classroom teacher and ultimately establish a sustainable computer science program. Volunteers from more than 200 companies nationwide have come together to bring STEM opportunities to students who otherwise would not have the chance to learn computer science.

Here, Nguyen shares how TEALS is helping close the gender and diversity gaps in computer science. Learn more about how to volunteer with TEALS here.

One Saturday while I was taking the subway home, I bumped into one of my students from the TEALS AP computer science class that I have been volunteering to teach. For the next several stops, we chatted about the program and her plans after high school. She told me how much she likes the computer science program, and that she wanted to go to MIT.

“Good for you!” I told her. “I really want you to do that.”

This is a young woman from an underserved community who wants to go into computer science. Her aspirations are inspiring, and the tech industry needs more people like her.

The software industry is unfortunately not as diverse as it should be. As a senior software engineer at a Fortune 50 company in New York City, I conduct a lot of job interviews and it worries me to see that there exist large gender and racial disparities, from the applicant pool to the hired workforce. Many tech companies realize this and have established programs to diversify the workforce. Bridging the gender and racial gap is not something companies do because it’s politically correct, but because it leads to better decisions, better teams and better products. However, there is also an urgent need to address these disparities earlier in the pipeline, when students are still exploring their career options. That’s why I got involved with TEALS.

At first I was concerned about the commitment. I teach two days a week, requiring me to wake up at 6:45am to take a bus and a subway train to the school. In addition, I also have to prepare for class the days before. But at the end of the day, I think it’s well worth it: I’m making a real difference.

I like that the goal of TEALS is to exit out of the school after two years once the classroom teacher is able to teach the class on his or her own. Volunteers for TEALS not only help the students in the class take the AP exam and spark their interest in computer science, we also aim to empower teachers who may not have the computer science knowledge and skills in the beginning, but will be able teach the class on their own.

I am very excited to see software engineers from different companies coming together to advance computer science education. A lot of us in the technology field are very privileged to be able to earn a high salary for doing something we love and enjoy. However, not everyone has had the same opportunities we had. If you enjoy your work and agree with me that the lack of diversity in technology is having a detrimental effect on the workforce (see my other article on this), I strongly encourage you to volunteer with TEALS.

It’s a win-win-win situation. The students win because TEALS opens up new careers for them. The teachers win because TEALS advances their career. As a volunteer, you win because you learn a lot about public speaking—in particular, how to be a better teacher and mentor. (TEALS had me go through two very useful and insightful weekends of training on this.) Hopefully in the near future, the software industry will also win by gaining a more diverse workforce that is representative of its users.

Join me in creating a new generation of diverse computer scientists.

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From living room to the classroom, TEALS volunteer changes lives

Atul Hatalkar

Atul Hatalkar is a Principal Engineer at Intel’s Internet of Things Group. He also volunteers as a co-teacher in TEALS, a grassroots computer science education program supported by Microsoft Philanthropies. TEALS relies on professionals across the country who come from more than 200 different tech companies. These volunteers bring computer science to high schoolers who wouldn’t have access to that education otherwise; they also train teachers to eventually teach computer science on their own, freeing volunteers to bring the program to even more schools. By building sustainable computer science education programs from coast to coast, TEALS aims to reach more than 11,000 students in the 2016-2017 school year.

Hatalkar is one of the volunteers helping make that happen. He volunteers in a TEALS introduction to computer science class at BASIS Chandler, a charter school outside Phoenix. Learn more about how to volunteer with TEALS here.

Back in 1980s, while in the 11th grade, I accidentally came across a book on computer programming. At that time, I knew nothing about computers and didn’t have access to one. So I wrote and “ran” my programs only on paper, with absolutely no way to confirm that my code was correct.

Today computers are everywhere. The majority of the items that we use are either already computerized or will become “smart” very soon. But as a society we severely lack the skills needed to develop new technologies, especially the software.

I routinely ask myself: How do I make kids interested in STEM careers and particularly in software development? Whenever I get a chance, I teach math and programming to young kids. This normally happens in my living room or around the dining table.

In 2015, I became aware of TEALS and immediately realized that it was one of the best opportunities to expand my contributions. The idea of teaching the teacher was very powerful, too. It was a no-brainer for me to volunteer for TEALS at BASIS Chandler.

Teaching in a formal high school setting has been a rewarding experience. For me, the best part of teaching happens when a new concept clicks in students’ minds and their eyes sparkle. While there isn’t enough classroom time to teach everything in detail, my goal has been to help my students get over the critical conceptual humps so they can progress further on their own.

The feedback from the students and their parents has been very positive. I consistently hear that, over the weekends, the kids are exploring new ideas on their own. They are visiting YouTube and to understand coding concepts—not for the sake of homework assignments, but because they are genuinely interested. This transformation in students’ attitudes excites me!

Under the TEALS banner, professionals from across the industry are coming together and collaborating with local schools. Yes, teaching in my living room helps young people. But TEALS has enabled me to make an even larger impact on the kids in my town.

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Students get college- and career-ready, thanks to TEALS volunteers

Jim Eiche

Jim Eiche is a programmer and software consultant at Gig Werks, a SharePoint solutions provider. In his spare time, he also volunteers in a TEALS AP computer science class at Frederick Douglas Academy in New York. Eiche and other TEALS volunteers prepare students to take the advanced placement exam, which can earn them college credit; they also train a classroom teacher so he can teach the class on his own. TEALS, the industry-wide movement supported by Microsoft Philanthropies, relies on volunteers like Eiche who come from more than 200 tech companies. Together, they are creating self-sustaining computer science programs like this one across the United States.

Learn more about how to volunteer with TEALS here.

I’m a programmer and software consultant, not a teacher. So when I first started volunteering with TEALS, I was really scared! I worried I’d get to the front of the classroom and freeze, or not know an answer, or be embarrassed. After a few classes that fear goes away.

I’ve always wanted to teach programming to young people. Computer science skills are in high demand, yet there aren’t enough people graduating in the field to fill all the job openings. That’s why I chose to volunteer with TEALS: I really wanted to give back to help the programming community in the U.S. and my local community.

It is very cool to see students go from knowing nothing about computer science to understanding very complex concepts in the AP curriculum. They start writing programs based on Pokemon to coding an app, which they’ll do after the AP test.

We’re showing them this is not just a class, but how it’s part of a profession too. Mr. Bianchi, the classroom teacher, will sometimes pull me to the front of the class to solve a particularly difficult problem the kids are facing. I’ll work on it using the same concepts they’re learning. And once a month, I demo a project I’m doing at work. It shows them computer science we’re teaching isn’t just pie in sky theory. The skills they’re learning in class apply to real jobs—and real life.

Mr. Bianchi is also learning. After less than a year he’s already good—he teaches part of the class on his own with us volunteers there as support and to help answer questions. Training the teacher is one reason why TEALS works so well: He will go on to teach computer science even after volunteers have moved on.

We don’t sugar-coat it: Computer science is a hard subject. Programming comes with a lot of frustration. But we’re trying to teach tenacity and self reliance: pushing through to solve a problem even if they think it’s impossible. The moment students finally do solve something on their own is an incredibly rewarding moment—for them and for me. 

I expected that at this point in the internet age, more people would know how to program. But so many young people just don’t know where to start. I like introducing the next generation to computer science. With TEALS, more students are getting the opportunity to learn skills literally everyone will need to know.

In high school, I was lucky: I took AP computer science at a very well ranked school. I am proud to offer the same opportunity to students here in New York.

In the U.S. we don’t put enough emphasis on computer science in school. We need to introduce more people to programming at an earlier age. That’s why I like helping. That’s why I give back.

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Volunteer brings life-changing opportunities to computer science students

Leonardo Souza

Leonardo Souza grew up in a small city near Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he drifted through school without finding a subject that really excited him. When he entered a technical high school and learned about computer science, he was “totally hooked.” The introduction to computer science completely altered his future, bringing him eventually to Boston, where he is a senior software engineer at Firecracker, a company that runs studying apps for medical students.

Souza wanted to offer young people the same life-changing opportunities computer science afforded him, so he began volunteering in an AP computer science class with TEALS in the 2015-2016 school year. TEALS is a grassroots program, supported by Microsoft Philanthropies, which matches computer science experts with classroom educators to team-teach CS in high schools throughout the US. He and three other volunteers work with a classroom teacher at Boston Latin Academy, where they are helping build a sustainable computer science program. TEALS volunteers, who come from more than 200 tech companies nationwide, teach students and partner with the classroom teacher becomes self-sufficient to teach CS in two years.

Learn more about how to volunteer with TEALS here.

I love teaching, and I love education—I always have. I used to teach English when I lived in Brazil, where I grew up, and I have worked as a technical instructor. I’m passionate about kids and education, particularly in computer science. After all, I have seen how much it turned around my life.

That’s why I love TEALS.

I love the hands-on projects that form a core part of the TEALS curriculum and watching the students’ evolution. At first, a lot of students are uncertain about whether they are in the right place. Then they start working in class, asking volunteers questions. Finally, they get into creating a project—and enjoying it!

We’re teaching 30 kids this year. Many of them didn’t see themselves as “computer science people,” but then here they are creating a whole program. They really get it!

Without TEALS, the vast majority of these high school students wouldn’t have a computer science teacher. Then they would go to college and never realize computer science is something they would enjoy and have fun with—something that has a lot of jobs that pay well. That’s especially important information for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I used to do other computer science volunteering, but I taught it on my own. I put together the curriculum, and when I stopped teaching, there was no one else to pick it up.

That’s why TEALS is terrific. It’s not just putting me there to teach, like in other programs. I’m also helping a teacher learn to teach computer science so they can be self-sufficient. I know someone else can continue the work after I’m done, so it’s scalable. I can go into another classroom to help. It’s also awesome to have an expert teacher who can help me with my teaching. It’s basically perfect.

If it were up to me, everyone would be exposed to computer science. My own daughters are—in fact, my 12-year-old goes to computer science camps, where she’s been doing game design and game development.

More and more of the future is defined by computer science. That’s why everyone should be exposed to coding and then decide whether or not they want to continue. Computer science is a building block, a fundamental skill that will help every person in their life.

And it’s magical to watch a student write their own program. They write the code, see the computer running and realize, “I did that.” It can be life-changing—but students first need the chance to learn, and use, computer science.

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TEALS volunteer shares the fun of computer science

Mark Dancho

Mark Dancho, a software engineer for SanDisk, volunteers in a TEALS introduction to computer science class at BASIS Chandler, a tuition-free charter school outside Phoenix. The Microsoft Philanthropies-supported TEALS program trains volunteers from hundreds of tech companies, places them in schools that do not have computer science programs and supports them as they teach students and a classroom teacher. In two years, that teacher is able to teach computer science entirely on their own. This model is growing self-sufficient computer science programs in schools across the nation—increasing access to STEM education and the opportunities that coincide with learning CS.

Here, Dancho explains why he volunteers in TEALS. Learn more about how to volunteer with TEALS here.

Not long ago, the head of school at BASIS Chandler sent out an email asking parents to volunteer. My kids go there, and I would love to volunteer, but being a lunchroom monitor was just not my thing. When I found out they were starting the TEALS computer science program, I looked into it. TEALS has a curriculum, volunteer training and support—and I knew I could help.

I’ve seen the class’s students evolve throughout the year. When we began, we asked students why they signed up for the class, and many said they did because their parents thought it was a good idea. But as time went on, they ended up really liking the class, sometimes in spite of themselves!

In TEALS we’re showing students that computer science is fun. We started with drawing with code, essentially: It allowed them to be creative without getting bogged down in the text. Now we’re doing Python, which is much more challenging, but many of the students like it even better!

I see in our students the joy of creating things. When they write a program—for instance creating a version of Mad Libs, which they did the other day in class—it invariably won’t work the first time. They struggle with that. Then they when it finally works, it’s great, and they realize, “I created that. I get how it works!”

In this class, they’re not just doing math problems every night, or something else that doesn’t feel relevant to their lives. In this class they’re going to create something—to make something that didn’t exist before.

I see the growing impact TEALS is having on this school. Mr. Bostaph, the classroom teacher, is already teaching some of the class. I like that the TEALS program is designed so the school will need volunteers less—within the next year or two, Mr. Bostaph will do it all on his own without us. He’s learning as we go: He sees how volunteers approach a topic, and then he incorporates his own ideas. At the same time, I watch him—like how he regains control of the class when it’s too loud, or if the kids aren’t paying attention. So my own teaching is getting better and better.

Plus, I watch my fellow volunteers. We all come from different companies, from Intel and SanDisk and Microsoft. We all have different styles and approaches to teaching computer science. Beyond that, they’re now colleagues and friends I wouldn’t have crossed paths with were it not for TEALS. We’re working across companies to improve computer science education in schools. We’re all in this together.

TEALS is touching the lives of so many youngsters and help expand their opportunities in the world. But it’s not good just for them; I get a lot out of volunteering, too! A lot of times teaching and seeing my students work is one of the biggest joys I get out of the day. And it sure beats being a lunchroom monitor!

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