Fostering Tech Talent at Inwood Academy

Preparing students for both college and careers is a priority for Inwood Academy. When we engage our students in thinking about a career opportunity, it builds a sense of hope and optimism about their future.

To foster this preparation, we bring in partners who volunteer their time to educate and inspire our students in the field of science, medicine, and technology—from the New York Restoration Project, Columbia University, Google, and Microsoft.

One of our newer partners is TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools). The TEALS program is part of Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative. They recruit, mentor, and place passionate high tech professionals in schools with two goals: help teach computer science, and inspire the students to pursue science and technology careers.

We are just one of 22 schools in NYC that is a TEALS partner school and are pleased to be entering our second school-year with the program. We are taking advantage of this amazing opportunity to bring computer science courses to our high school students.

The tech industry is challenged in finding and hiring qualified, talented employees. There simply aren’t enough candidates to meet the needs of the industry. With the TEALS program, they are providing rigorous computer science to high schools while tackling the shortage of computer science graduates.

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As the computer science teacher last school-year, I worked with software engineers from Facebook and Shutterstock to teach the Introduction to Computer Science course based off of UC Berkeley’s award-winning Beauty and Joy of Computing curriculum. This coming school year, we will continue to expand the program, bringing in a new partner teacher, a team of volunteers, and students.

Helping our students to identify where their passions lie is key to preparing them for future jobs and correlates to success in school. With the engineers in the class, our students were pushed beyond what I would have been capable of as a teacher, creating complex, multi-step projects, and using original algorithmic thinking to solve difficult problems. Even those students who decided by the end of the year that computer science was not for them benefitted immensely, as they were challenged to think computationally, developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills that will transfer across disciplines.

Perhaps most importantly, while talk of career pathways and critical thinking is crucial, the class was also fun! There was constant laughter in the classroom as students created a classic side-scrolling Mario game, animated the movements of their favorite professional wrestlers, developed humorous telemarketer programs, and coded games of Hangman. For fifty minutes each school day, we all got to engage in a fun, challenging, and truly unique educational experience. I am so pleased that we are continuing with the TEALS program for the 2017-2018 school year, and am excited to see how computer science can continue to grow at Inwood Academy.

 

Garden Growers

One of my goals is to ensure the school engages all students and to help us achieve this we use personalized learning strategies and integrating technology into the classroom. The result, Inwood Academy is creating learners—children who are engaged and thriving in a learning environment. Another means to achieving my goal is to partner with community organizations that provide unique learning experiences for our students.

It is community partners like the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) who are providing a vital role in helping us to educate the students at Inwood Academy. They invited us to participate in their Gardens Grower Program.

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Last week, the Education Team at the NYRP joined our fifth grade students. They learned about the benefits of growing their own food, soil, and harvesting. Math and science, along with the art of seeding, were used throughout the class.

Our students will meet with the NYRP team a few times a month in our backyard, Swindler Cove in Sherman Creek Park. There, they will transplant the crops they started last week, explore the five distinct habitats represented in the park, and at the end May harvest their onions and eggplant.

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To view more photographs, see NYRP Garden Growers photo album on our school’s Flickr page.

To stay tuned on our Garden Growers, join us on Inwood Academy’s Facebook page.

To learn about how Harvard, Microsoft, and Columbia University recently supported our students, read our Harvard University’s CS50 and The Joy and Wonder of being a Medical Student blog posts.