Highland News Leader

Highland High School launching new computer science program

Front row from left are Highland Assistant Superintendent of Schools Derek Hacke, BEA Chairman Kevin Hemann, HHS computer science instructor Max Uhls, HHS computer science instructor Melissa Perks, HMS teacher and BEA Impact Award Recipient Dawn Hubbard, HMS Teacher and BEA Impact Award Recipient Lisa Weder, and vice president of the Highland Education Foundation Todd Korte; back row, HHS agriculture teacher Larry Jones, president of the Highland Education Foundation Jon Basden, Highland Superintendent of Schools Michael Sutton, city of Highland assistant city manager Lisa Peck, HMS Principal Erick Baer, Highland schools Chief Educational Technology Officer Matt Fredericksen, Basler Electric human resources director Lisa Gerner, and commercial loan officer at National Bank of Highland John Keeven.
Front row from left are Highland Assistant Superintendent of Schools Derek Hacke, BEA Chairman Kevin Hemann, HHS computer science instructor Max Uhls, HHS computer science instructor Melissa Perks, HMS teacher and BEA Impact Award Recipient Dawn Hubbard, HMS Teacher and BEA Impact Award Recipient Lisa Weder, and vice president of the Highland Education Foundation Todd Korte; back row, HHS agriculture teacher Larry Jones, president of the Highland Education Foundation Jon Basden, Highland Superintendent of Schools Michael Sutton, city of Highland assistant city manager Lisa Peck, HMS Principal Erick Baer, Highland schools Chief Educational Technology Officer Matt Fredericksen, Basler Electric human resources director Lisa Gerner, and commercial loan officer at National Bank of Highland John Keeven. amcdonald@bnd.com

Starting this fall, Highland School Students will be able to take a “byte” at learning a job skill that’s more and more in demand — computer coding.

The city of Highland, the Highland School District and multiple partners in the Business Education Alliance (BEA) have teamed up to fund a new program to teach students about coding and computer science.

“As a member of the Business Department at Highland High School, I’ve taught introduction to computer programming for three years,” said teacher Melissa Perks. “I’m excited to participate in the Project Lead The Way’s Introduction to Computer Science training this summer so that I may provide our students with a more rigorous level of curriculum and standards.”

She — along with Max Uhls, who teaches algebra, statistics, calculus, and principles of engineering at HHS — will be teaching the new classes and will attend the Project Lead The Way Training Program this summer. “I’m very grateful for the support from the BEA and the city of Highland for making it possible for these courses to be offered to our high school students,” Uhls said.

Uhls and Perks will learn a semester’s worth of information in an intense, two-week training program. “There is a lot of excitement in the high school,” Uhls said. “I’ve already had students come up to me disappointed because they couldn’t get in. This class is really going to pay off.” So far, 30 students have signed up for the class.

“The BEA, city of Highland and School District have been working on this for approximately two years,” said BEA Chairman Kevin Hemann. “The school district has been very pleased with the success of this program. They thought Project Lead the Way would be the best way to enhance the computer technology classes at the high school.”

It’s projected that the number of job openings for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields will reach 2.8 million by 2018. Of these jobs, about 1.4 million will be for computer specialists, which is why the district is pushing so hard to get classes like these started at the high school level.

“The general reaction to the program is very exciting with overwhelming support,” Hemann said. “So far we have no resistance to the program additions, only positive reactions.”

Programs like this aren’t cheap, however. The project is expected to cost $56,285 during the next four years. However, the partnership between the city, school district and BEA partners will be the main source of funding for the program, while the training for the teachers is funded by a grant from the the Madison County Career and Technical Education System.

“What I know for sure it is difficult for school districts to add classes because of funding, but with this joint venture they were able to get this started,” Hemann said.

Project Lead The Way provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S. It creates an engaging environment and empower students to develop in-demand knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in an evolving world.

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