Posted on 5/17/2017

Innovative TEALS program working with high tech volunteers to fill high school computer science educational gap in Michigan

Kip Fern

Did you know that right now there are currently 500,000 unfilled programming jobs in the United States? In Michigan alone, there are over 14,000 open computing jobs. Many of these positions are high-paying, and these careers are projected to grow at twice the rate of other jobs. We also know computer science helps build skills that are in-demand across industries such as computational thinking and problem solving. Yet most high schools do not teach computer science.

The good news is that tech companies and educators are finding new ways to bridge the gap. One of these solutions, TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools), is opening doors to new opportunities for high school students in Michigan and across the country.

TEALS is a grassroots program, supported by Microsoft Philanthropies, that helps high schools build and grow sustainable computer science programs through partnerships between classroom teachers and tech industry volunteers. Over two years, classroom teachers gradually take over the responsibility of teaching the course on their own. 
Today, TEALS serves 225 schools and 9,000 students across 25 states, through nearly 700 volunteers from more than 300 companies across the tech industry, including companies like Microsoft Philanthropies, Google, Amazon, and Expedia to name just a few.

Watch the video below to see how TEALS is making a difference for students in one small Washington state community.


Bringing TEALS to Michigan

We are very excited to bring TEALS to Detroit and the surrounding area beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, but we need your help! We have until early June to find upwards of 40 volunteers.

“Computer science and technology skills are becoming increasingly necessary to succeed in the job market, and computing-related fields are the top source of good-paying jobs in the United States,” said Sen. Gary Peters, who this month visited Detroit International Academy, which is just one of the new Michigan school that will host the TEALS program this fall. “We need to ensure our students have access to courses and resources that will help them build these critical skills, but only 71 Michigan schools offered Advanced Placement computer science classes this year. Research shows that students who take computer science in K-12 are nearly ten times more likely to pursue it as a college degree, and that’s why I’m pleased the TEALS program will be adding 11 Michigan schools in the next school year to help provide these important resources to students across the state.”

The private sector plays an especially critical role in TEALS, which depends on volunteers from local companies to partner with classroom teachers to bring computer science into high schools. Anyone with a computer programming background, and a desire to contribute to their community, is encouraged to apply. TEALS arranges with schools for classes to be taught during first period, allowing volunteers to teach before the work day begins.

The best way to learn about TEALS is to hear directly from students and teachers. 

“TEALS changed my life not only because it taught me how to code, it also showed me that even though something like computer science may be hard, you can still be good at it—and it can still be worthwhile,” says Arabia Simeon, a former TEALS student at the Young Women’s Leadership School in Brooklyn, N.Y. who is now a sophomore majoring in both computer science and art at Smith College in Northhampton, Mass. “So I’m not pursuing computer science just for me; I’m doing it for so many other girls and kids out there in low-income communities. I want to help people be who they want to be—without any limitations.” 

“I knew how to teach to students, but the computer science, that was where I really needed some training,” says Susan Sears, a Manson Junior Senior High School teacher in rural Washington. “It’s been great to be able to learn alongside the students.”

If you are a computer science professional, retiree or graduate student in the state of Michigan, you are encouraged to sign up to volunteer. Please visit to see which schools in Michigan are participating for 2017-2018, to learn more about the program and to apply.

About the Author

Kip Fern | Microsoft

Kip Fern graduated from MIT with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science. At Microsoft, Kip was the very first program manager on the Microsoft Live@EDU program (now known as Office 365 Education), worked on, and has also been a TEALS volunteer since 2012. Kip also was the Franchise Development Director on the very first Wii game (Madden ’07) while at EA Sports, and was the 4th employee at Concur, the worldwide leader in travel and expense management.


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