AT&T grant helps borough schools improve

AT&T grant helps borough schools improve
Marissa Shorenstein with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul (c) and schoolchildren at an event for another of AT&T’s STEM education initiatives: Girls Who Code.
Photo courtesy of AT&T

A telecom company is helping students at four borough schools receive better training in the fundamentals of computer science.

An AT&T initiative will provide educators that are part of the Teach for America program with extra training in methods to better instruct students in computer science.

Computer Science education is part of the important STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) field that AT&T’s Aspire philanthropic initiative is seeking to improve through “quality professional development for teachers.”

Teach for America, a national teacher training program, has received $100,000 in funding for seven city schools, including four in the borough: UA School for Applied Mathematics in Claremont, DreamYard Prep in Grand Concourse, Wings Academy High School in West Farms and Hyde Leadership Charter School in Hunts Point.

The program launches in 2017, according to an AT&T spokeswoman and looks to address what the company believes is a gap in the training of many students and their teachers.

“We believe that the future economy really resides in technology and that students are not adequately trained in STEM fields, and we need to do everything we can to support STEM education,” said Marissa Shorenstein, AT&T’s New York state president.

Better teaching of basic coding and robotics is needed not just as building blocks for a future computer science and software engineering, but also in terms of softer skills such as creativity and leadership, she said.

According to statistics supplied by AT&T, only one in four schools in the United States offer computer science classes and there are over a half-million jobs available in computing with far fewer people entering the field.

“It is more important than ever for our schools, non-profits and private companies to work together to expand access to the critical skillsets that our students will need for careers in growing STEM fields,” said Shorenstein.

She added “AT&T is leading the way to foster access to STEM education in New York City, and we are thrilled to continue these efforts by working with Teach For America to ensure our teachers are best able to prepare our students for 21st century success.”

The funding will benefit teachers who are already part of Teach for America, a program that enlists and develops teachers by recruiting them from top universities throughout the nation to the teaching field and providing opportunities for professional development.

A school official at another one of the schools, Celia Sosa, Hyde Leadership Charter School’s high school director, said that her school is excited to partner with Teacher for America to further the students’ digital literacy skills.

“Our school has made significant investments in using technology to drive differentiated and collaborative instruction, and our partnership with Teach For America’s STEM Initiative has enabled Hyde faculty to develop additional computer science skills, said Sosa. “This year, we are offering two Exploring Computer Science classes, as well as AP Computer Science Principles for the first time ever.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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