Preparing Wisconsin’s future computer science professionals

Profiles in Innovation

Microsoft Corp. has continued its investment in Wisconsin with the introduction of its TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program.

The company has supported several initiatives in Wisconsin in recent years − financially, but also through support of Wisconsin small business growth and technology education and innovation.

Aaron Kohlbeck and Carly Anderson co-teach CS classes at Veritas High School as part of the TEALS program.
Credit: Veritas High School

TEALS currently exists in 348 high schools throughout the U.S. to build and grow sustainable computer science programs. The program pairs computer science professionals from across the technology industry with teachers to team-teach computer science.

The program’s success is dependent on industry volunteers and partner teachers who create a ripple effect, impacting the students they teach and inspiring many students to study computer science in the future. The program is supported financially by Microsoft Philanthropies.

TEALS is currently offered at 13 Wisconsin schools. Veritas High School, one of the three participating schools in Milwaukee, operates with a mission to “prepare students for post-secondary education success through completion of an academically challenging, values-based curriculum.”

Before TEALS arrived in 2017, Veritas had no computer science courses. The course is currently offered as an elective to juniors and seniors at the school.

“We participated in the Hour of Code program annually but that was all we could offer,” said Sherry Tolkan, principal of Veritas High School. “When I became aware of TEALS, I knew the program would be a great addition to our curriculum.”

The Hour of Code event is a worldwide effort designed to be an introduction to computer science and coding.

Carly Anderson, a Veritas math teacher, works with the TEALS volunteers.

Aaron Kohlbeck teaches a CS course at Veritas High School.
Credit: Veritas High School

“TEALS is a perfect fit for us because this first year, the volunteers plan the lessons based on the TEALS curriculum and I put together the worksheets and offer teaching support,” she said. “While the volunteers lead the class each morning, I’m learning along with the students in preparation for the future when I can teach a computer science class on my own.”

The response from students has been positive.

“I really loved the (Hour of Code) when it was offered, so I was excited to participate in TEALS,” said Jannett Mora, one of the 24 current participants in the TEALS program. “Even though the work is challenging, seeing the end result is really satisfying.”

“We’re so thankful for the dedication of the volunteers,” Anderson added. “There’s something to be said about bringing in experts from the field and the value they add to the classroom.”

According to Caroline Hardin, the TEALS Wisconsin South regional manager, the next step is to focus on Madison-area schools to continue building the region and connect geographically close cohorts of teachers, schools and technology professionals. Goals for the near future also include adding two to three more schools in the Milwaukee area.

Volunteers find the program valuable, as well.

“I participate in TEALS to engage students and help close the gap between the people who use technology and those who understand it. Technology is all around us yet there are unfilled computer science jobs right now, and the need is just growing,” said Aaron Kohlbeck, Technical Team lead at Ascedia and a Veritas TEALS volunteer.

Microsoft Corp. has continued its investment in Wisconsin with the introduction of its TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program.

The company has supported several initiatives in Wisconsin in recent years − financially, but also through support of Wisconsin small business growth and technology education and innovation.

Aaron Kohlbeck and Carly Anderson co-teach CS classes at Veritas High School as part of the TEALS program.
Credit: Veritas High School

TEALS currently exists in 348 high schools throughout the U.S. to build and grow sustainable computer science programs. The program pairs computer science professionals from across the technology industry with teachers to team-teach computer science.

The program’s success is dependent on industry volunteers and partner teachers who create a ripple effect, impacting the students they teach and inspiring many students to study computer science in the future. The program is supported financially by Microsoft Philanthropies.

TEALS is currently offered at 13 Wisconsin schools. Veritas High School, one of the three participating schools in Milwaukee, operates with a mission to “prepare students for post-secondary education success through completion of an academically challenging, values-based curriculum.”

Before TEALS arrived in 2017, Veritas had no computer science courses. The course is currently offered as an elective to juniors and seniors at the school.

“We participated in the Hour of Code program annually but that was all we could offer,” said Sherry Tolkan, principal of Veritas High School. “When I became aware of TEALS, I knew the program would be a great addition to our curriculum.”

The Hour of Code event is a worldwide effort designed to be an introduction to computer science and coding.

Carly Anderson, a Veritas math teacher, works with the TEALS volunteers.

Aaron Kohlbeck teaches a CS course at Veritas High School.
Credit: Veritas High School

“TEALS is a perfect fit for us because this first year, the volunteers plan the lessons based on the TEALS curriculum and I put together the worksheets and offer teaching support,” she said. “While the volunteers lead the class each morning, I’m learning along with the students in preparation for the future when I can teach a computer science class on my own.”

The response from students has been positive.

“I really loved the (Hour of Code) when it was offered, so I was excited to participate in TEALS,” said Jannett Mora, one of the 24 current participants in the TEALS program. “Even though the work is challenging, seeing the end result is really satisfying.”

“We’re so thankful for the dedication of the volunteers,” Anderson added. “There’s something to be said about bringing in experts from the field and the value they add to the classroom.”

According to Caroline Hardin, the TEALS Wisconsin South regional manager, the next step is to focus on Madison-area schools to continue building the region and connect geographically close cohorts of teachers, schools and technology professionals. Goals for the near future also include adding two to three more schools in the Milwaukee area.

Volunteers find the program valuable, as well.

“I participate in TEALS to engage students and help close the gap between the people who use technology and those who understand it. Technology is all around us yet there are unfilled computer science jobs right now, and the need is just growing,” said Aaron Kohlbeck, Technical Team lead at Ascedia and a Veritas TEALS volunteer.

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