Volunteers teach computer science to local high school students



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Posted on September 28, 2011 at 11:05 PM

It's a class every high school student should take, but there aren't enough qualified teachers to teach it.  So, a Microsoft employee started a gorilla movement to recruit volunteers in the tech industry to teach computer science at local high schools.  
Sarah Filman has always had a knack for teaching.
"I did a lot of TA-ing in college so teaching has always been something I wanted to do," Filman said.
So getting these Cleveland High School students interested in computers is a welcome challenge.
"You do a game you do an activity you make it relatable.  That gets me excited," Filman said.
Shah Bawany also shares his love for computer science with students at Cleveland and believes he does more than help kids design a simple game.  They become better thinkers.
"There are a lot of students who are really motivated for them I can see light bulbs going off in their heads as they solve problems.  That's really cool to see," Bawany said.
But for Bawany and Filman, teaching is not their full-time job.
They both work at Microsoft.  Filman in their Skydrive Division.  Bawany is in security.
The TEALS program connects them to the classroom.
Kevin Wang came up with the idea.  He says the need for skilled instructors was obvious.  In a region rich with tech employers, one might think computer science education here would be a priority.  Not so says Wang.
"If you look at the 2010 Advanced Placement computer science exam, in the entire state of Washington, only 275 kids took that test.  For a state that has all these tech companies.
"Shah, he is an excellent teacher," Ean Johnston said.
So good, that 17-year-old Johnston now wants a career in computer science.  He says learning these skills from a Microsoft employee is invaluable.
"They're teaching what they've learned and what they're putting to use," Johnston said.
TEALS has blossomed from three schools to 14 that have signed up for the program.  The goal is to provide every school a computer science teacher that needs one.  
The volunteers in the TEALS program are paid a small stipend and they're now recruiting from other companies besides Microsoft.