News Feed Item

C Spire, TEALS program to boost computer science education in schools

Part of comprehensive Tech Movement initiative aimed at developing Mississippi's tech workforce of future

RIDGELAND, Miss., Feb. 14, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- C Spire and the Microsoft Philanthropies-supported Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program are teaming up on efforts aimed at improving and accelerating teacher skills, professional development and high school classroom instruction in computer science in Mississippi.

C Spire is joining forces with the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools program on a pilot project in Mississippi to improve and accelerate teacher skills, professional development and high school classroom instruction in computer science.

A letter of intent signed by C Spire and TEALS officials this week is expected to pave the way for funding a dedicated TEALS program manager for the state as well as the launch of a pilot program later this year involving five schools and expansion efforts in 2019 aimed at recruiting new schools and volunteers for the program.

C Spire hopes to quickly expand the program statewide through a grassroots fundraising program involving the sale of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) wrist bands by students, teachers, volunteers, community activists, supporters and education advocates in elementary and high schools across the state.      

"With the shortage of qualified information technology professionals growing every day, we need to move decisively and quickly to equip teachers and inspire students to pursue computer science education and career paths that will help us meet the needs of our new digital economy," said C Spire CIO Carla Lewis.

"Computer science concepts and programming skills are relevant in every academic discipline from math and science to music and the arts," Lewis added. "Computational and critical thinking skills used in CS make students more effective in whatever career they choose."

Teacher training is a critical piece of the computer science education puzzle and one that C Spire hopes to address by combining forces with TEALS and the Mississippi Department of Education's (MDE) Computer Science for Mississippi (CS4MS) pilot program run by Mississippi State University's Research and Curriculum Unit (RCU).

MDE is working with staff from MSU's RCU to coordinate work on the initiative with about 35 percent (52) of the state's 148 school districts participating in the pilot computer science program.  About 400 teachers have been trained and over 15,000 students have been reached thus far in the program, now entering its third year.

"We need to reach students at a young age and help them understand the benefits of computer science education and the opportunities for a varied career path in the information technology industry," said Shelly Hollis, project manager for RCU, which is leading coordination efforts with the public and private sectors.

Workers with a background in computer science are in high demand and short supply in Mississippi.  Employers currently have over 1,200 unfilled job openings due to the serious shortage of trained, qualified IT workers, Lewis said.  The average salary for qualified IT workers is nearly $69,000 a year, almost double the statewide average.

Nationwide, new research estimates the current shortage of 607,708 IT workers will balloon to over 1 million software developers in the U.S. by 2020.  "The inventor of the next big thing, the latest app or cutting-edge software may be sitting in a classroom waiting to be inspired and encouraged to become a leader in the digital economy," Lewis said.

Besides the partnership with TEALS, C Spire is doing its part to encourage high school students to pursue a degree and career in information technology and computer science.  The company has hosted two computer coding challenges in 2017 for high school students across the state, reaching 43 high schools and over 200 students and has scheduled its first coding challenge in 2018 for next month.

The day-long C3 program teaches students to use critical thinking and problem solving skills to solve a fresh computer coding challenge during the competition.  Teams compete for college scholarships and other tech-related prizes.  C Spire assigns employees with IT backgrounds and experience to help each team navigate the challenge. 

Lewis said the company-sponsored coding challenges and C Spire Foundation support for other public initiatives and private non-profit programs like the Base Camp Coding Academy and Pepper robot tours in schools are designed to help C Spire deliver on its promise to help create and retain a 21st century technology workforce in its region.

The education efforts, the public-private initiatives and the coding challenges can serve as an important first step to increase interest in computer science, according to Lewis. In 2016, only 16 students in the state took the AP computer science exam and only three schools statewide offered the AP computer science course in 2015-16, according to Code.org, a computer science education advocacy group.  Last year, 105 Mississippi high school students successfully completed the AP computer science exam, a 650 percent increase. 

Workforce development is a key part of the broader C Spire Tech Movement initiative designed to leverage the company's technology leadership and investments to help transform Mississippi.  Expanding tech innovation and education in the areas of robotics, artificial intelligence, internet of things, augmented and virtual reality, machine learning and telehealth are also top priorities for the company, Lewis said.

Other elements of the program include massive deployment of broadband internet for homes and businesses, tech innovation like C Spire's smart cities partnership with the city of Ridgeland and other leadership initiatives designed to drive innovation and development of a 21st century technology workforce.

"We live in a software-defined world where code and the internet directly impacts every aspect of our lives," Lewis said.  "Computer science drives innovation and creates jobs in our economy, but we need to do more to encourage schools to offer courses, equip teachers and enable young people to pursue IT careers and computer science degrees."

About C Spire

C Spire is a leading technology company committed to transforming Mississippi through the C Spire Tech Movement, which includes the massive deployment of broadband internet to homes and small businesses, a state-of-the-art digital experience for its customers and team members, technology innovation leadership and the creation and retention of a 21st century technology workforce in its region.  The company provides world-class, customer-inspired wireless communications, 1 Gigabit consumer Internet access as well as a full suite of dedicated Internet, wireless, IP Voice, data and cloud services for businesses.  This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.

C Spire (PRNewsFoto/C Spire) (PRNewsFoto/C Spire) (PRNewsFoto/C Spire)

Cision View original content with multimedia:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/c-spire-teals-program-to-boost-computer-science-education-in-schools-300599029.html


More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
Sometimes I write a blog just to formulate and organize a point of view, and I think it’s time that I pull together the bounty of excellent information about Machine Learning. This is a topic with which business leaders must become comfortable, especially tomorrow’s business leaders (tip for my next semester University of San Francisco business students!). Machine learning is a key capability that will help organizations drive optimization and monetization opportunities, and there have been some...
"Storpool does only block-level storage so we do one thing extremely well. The growth in data is what drives the move to software-defined technologies in general and software-defined storage," explained Boyan Ivanov, CEO and co-founder at StorPool, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
ChatOps is an emerging topic that has led to the wide availability of integrations between group chat and various other tools/platforms. Currently, HipChat is an extremely powerful collaboration platform due to the various ChatOps integrations that are available. However, DevOps automation can involve orchestration and complex workflows. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Himanshu Chhetri, CTO at Addteq, will cover practical examples and use cases such as self-provisioning infra...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being software-defined – from our phones and cars through our washing machines to the datacenter. However, there are larger challenges when implementing software defined on a larger scale - when building software defined infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool, provided some practical insights on what, how and why when implementing "software-defined" in the datacent...
Blockchain. A day doesn’t seem to go by without seeing articles and discussions about the technology. According to PwC executive Seamus Cushley, approximately $1.4B has been invested in blockchain just last year. In Gartner’s recent hype cycle for emerging technologies, blockchain is approaching the peak. It is considered by Gartner as one of the ‘Key platform-enabling technologies to track.’ While there is a lot of ‘hype vs reality’ discussions going on, there is no arguing that blockchain is b...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across business networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost as well as advance trade. Are you curious about how Blockchain is built for business? In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, discussed the b...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable?Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, answered these questions and demonstrated techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances and co...
The use of containers by developers -- and now increasingly IT operators -- has grown from infatuation to deep and abiding love. But as with any long-term affair, the honeymoon soon leads to needing to live well together ... and maybe even getting some relationship help along the way. And so it goes with container orchestration and automation solutions, which are rapidly emerging as the means to maintain the bliss between rapid container adoption and broad container use among multiple cloud host...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.