The University of Arizona has announced an expanded partnership with Microsoft Corp. to bring computer science education, through Microsoft's Technology, Education and Literacy in Schools, or TEALS, program, to more high school students in Tucson and southern Arizona, starting with the 2018-2019 school year.
Microsoft will fund and hire a new TEALS regional manager to grow the reach of the program in the region. The manager will recruit new high schools to host the program and volunteers to staff it. Through its STEM Learning Center, the UA will connect students with opportunities to volunteer in TEALS classrooms.
"Role models and near-peer mentors can positively influence a young person's decision to pursue subjects like computer science education, which is one of the reasons we're so pleased to broaden our work with the University of Arizona," said Yvonne Thomas, director of global programs for Microsoft Philanthropies, which operates the TEALS program. "It's critical that every high school student has the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of computer science, so they're prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow."
TEALS, which operates in nearly 350 U.S. high schools, recruits technical volunteers to team-teach computer science alongside classroom teachers. With volunteers from more than 500 companies and partner organizations, TEALS volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and experiences in technology. UA students today share their knowledge and expertise with students at three of the nine high schools in the region that offer TEALS classes. The expanded partnership will add more schools in the fall and in coming years.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country had approximately 500,000 open computing jobs in 2015. Yet U.S. universities produce only about 40,000 computer science graduates each year.
"One of the keys to expanding the number of computer science graduates is getting to students before they reach college, to help them realize they can learn to code, just as they can learn a foreign language," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, senior vice president for research and chief research officer for the UA. "Through this partnership, University of Arizona students will have the opportunity to bring what they've learned to high school students and ultimately grow the pipeline of technology talent from our schools, to college, and to the job market."
While high school administrators may want to offer computer science, they often lack the resources to train teachers in the subject. TEALS volunteers not only help teach students, they also provide teachers the opportunity to learn how to teach the subject on their own in the future.
In most cases, TEALS volunteers work side by side with teachers, but in more remote areas volunteers connect with classes through the internet. Interested volunteers may visit https://www.tealsk12.org/volunteers/.