Microsoft expands program to teach computer science to high schoolers

Microsoft expands program to teach computer science to high schoolers
Students at Rainier Beach taking an AP Computer Science class. Taught by Microsoft volunteer Matthew Olivo

SEATTLE -- We often hear how some of the big local technology companies, like Microsoft and Amazon are struggling to find highly skilled workers.  They complain high schools aren't turning out students with a background in computer science.

So a few years ago, Microsoft launched a program to do something about it. And that is how TEALS was born.

Teals stands for Technology Education and Literacy in Schools. The program places volunteers from companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Google in area high schools, where they work alongside classroom instructors, teaching computer science.

Ifrah Abshir takes the zero period class (7 a.m.). The Somali born 15-year-old is passionate about computers and what a little knowledge can mean for her future.

"It does feel empowering because knowing that computer science is used in everything, whether you want to become a doctor or a dentist or whatever, computer science is used in everything," said Abshir. "If you have the background skills, no matter what you do in life, you'll always be ahead of the field."

She hopes to become a pediatric oncologist. Roger Henderson will graduate from Rainier Beach High School this year, but isn't letting 'senioritis' lead to slacking off.

"I want to major in computer science and work for a game company like maybe Sony or maybe for Sucker Punch."

When Microsoft employees volunteer for TEALS, the company pays the schools for the hours their employees spend with the students, so it's a win-win for the schools.

And once the classroom teacher is up on the TEALS curriculum, they take over and the volunteer moves on to a new school. TEALS is now operating in 70 schools in 12 states.