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Mount Vernon City School District Announces Partnership with Microsoft TEALS

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (June 7, 2023) — Microsoft Philanthropies is bringing its Technology Education and Learning Support (TEALS) Program to Mount Vernon High School for the 2023-24 school year.

The program was first introduced to Mount Vernon by Marvin Church and Dr. Diana Williams, local co-founders of the nonprofit Environmental Leaders of Color (ELOC). Bruce Jackson, managing director for strategic partnerships out of the office of the president of Microsoft, is also a board member of ELOC. His connection with both organizations and Mount Vernon helped bring the program to the Mount Vernon City School District.

“In a recent student town hall meeting, students asked for more diverse pathways because they do not want to transfer to another building to pursue their interests,” said Dr. Pauline Pearce, principal of MVHS. “As a traditional high school, we want to be able to offer a diverse curriculum so that our scholars can be exposed to a variety of content. This partnership is very timely in that students can see that we are making an effort to provide what they need.”

Microsoft Philanthropies focuses on Title I schools with high levels of diversity. The goal is to provide a computer science pathway at high schools, so students of all backgrounds have the same access as their peers.

“Environmental Leaders of Color encourages a strong relationship between the Mount Vernon School District and Microsoft to introduce students to the most up-to-date computer science education from a software giant,” said Dr. Williams. “This collaboration with Microsoft is important because we have to partner with companies who are trendsetters in the workplace. We have to make a direct connection.”

The TEALS Program will be introduced at low cost to the school district with its Introduction to Computer Science course at MVHS in the first year. The course will be available for 25 students.

“The goal is to provide a computer science pathway at high school, so students of all backgrounds can have the same access as their peers,” said Acting Superintendent Dr. K. Veronica Smith. “That’s major here at Mount Vernon High School, and like Dr. Pearce I am delighted that we are being afforded this opportunity.”

Progress checks will be made throughout the year to guide further implementation of computer science courses in the following years, including AP Computer Science Principles.

Black and Latino students who take an AP computer science course in high school are seven times more likely to major in computer science, and women are 10 times more likely. These courses will open new opportunities for Mount Vernon students and give them competitive job skills that can translate to well paying computer science jobs.

“This computer science pathway will equip students with the problem solving skills that are applicable to any field,” said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Jamal Doggett. “I look forward to the partnership and the progress ahead for the Mount Vernon City School District and the New Mount Vernon High School.”

The program is run by industry and collegiate volunteers, over 1,500 of which volunteer each year. Volunteers will work with students and teachers to assist in developing a full computer science curriculum that is self-sustaining. Teachers will be trained to teach the courses by volunteers and will provide resources, training and support to students from application to graduation.

“We’re very excited to introduce the world of programming to our Mount Vernon High School students,” said Jaechul Yang, chemistry teacher at MVHS who will teach the computer science courses. “Although we’ve had some experience, this is going to be brand new where they’ll be able to have hands-on experience through the mentors and the partnership with Microsoft.”

Two to four volunteer teachers will take on a co-teaching role in at least the first two years of the program. The volunteers will be responsible for approximately 90% of the instruction. They will provide support to students as well as assisting teachers in their computer science learning.

“When I think of TEALS, I think TEALS is designed to empower students to achieve more and reach their potential,” said Bruce Jackson, managing director for strategic partnerships out of the office of the president at Microsoft and board member of Environmental Leaders of Color. “It’s basically there to provide an opportunity to help bridge the technology gap and also deal with economic wealth because technology is going to be an incredible tool in the future.”

Once the teachers are sufficiently trained, one to two volunteers will provide lab support. This means that MVHS teachers will be responsible for 80% of lessons, with volunteers only leading some classes and assisting with labs and assignment grading. Once the TEALS Program is fully implemented, MVHS teachers will teach computer science classes on their own.

Raul Nedd, regional manager for the TEALS Program, will oversee the program’s implementation at MVHS. He will then assess the program’s progress and determine what resources are needed. Bruce Jackson, managing director for strategic partnership at Microsoft, will also provide oversight of the program and partnership.

About Mount Vernon City School District:

With more than 7,500 students in 16 schools, the Mount Vernon City School District is committed to providing a quality education to all children while developing programs that meet the diverse academic and social needs of its students.

Videos:

Dr. K. Veronica Smith, acting superintendent; Jaechul Yang, chemistry teacher who will teach TEALS courses; Dr. Diana Williams, co-founder of Environmental Leaders of Color; Bruce Jackson, managing director for strategic partnerships out of the office of the president at Microsoft and board member of Environmental Leaders of Color.



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