My kids were in school today, hopefully paying attention to their teacher, while I stood in a classroom a few blocks away, side by side with people who are committed to advancing their future.

It was high school teacher / software engineer at Microsoft, Kevin Wang, who created the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools program, or TEALS. The program pairs computer science volunteers from the tech industry with teachers in the classroom and I had the opportunity to see it officially launched in Canada this morning.

TEALS exists because the need for it exists. While we’re all committed to computer science and computational thinking in the classroom, not every teacher is ready to teach it. To fill the gap, TEALS brings industry volunteers together with classroom teachers to equip them with the knowledge they need to adapt. It’s an opportunity to grow computer science teaching capacity in the classroom now, while up-skilling educators for a future that will see technology become part of everything we do and every industry that their students will work in one day.

This school year marks the first TEALS classrooms outside the U.S. and I could not be prouder to have that expansion happening here in British Columbia. Four high schools, Burnaby South Secondary, Handsworth Secondary, John Oliver Secondary and Killarney Secondary began team-teaching computer science in September and today, I met two of the teachers, some of the volunteers and a classroom of students who are excited about the possibilities that it brings.

These four schools are joining almost 500 across the United States already participating in TEALS serving 12,000 students, and our team of volunteers is just the beginning. We anticipate expanding the program next year to support up to 12 schools, including at least one in a rural community. All going well, we anticipate 25 the year after. It’s something I’ve been working towards for the last few years and seeing it come together was everything I’d hoped.

My kids, and the generation that they are part of, have never known an analog world. They see things differently than we do. They have the power to push us further into the digital era and shape the future in responsible ways. Having this education, up front, will give them the foundation they need to change the world.

So today, I’d like to say thank you to the school administrators who have trusted us to join your classrooms and to the teachers who are diving in headfirst to make this happen. I’d also like to commend the two dozen volunteers who signed up, did months of training and are now in these schools every week. Their passion is remarkable and strongly supported by the companies that make it possible for them to take time away from their work to do this – ACL, Amazon, Apple, Broadcom, Electronic Arts, Hyperwallet, Kabam, SAP, Stryker and my own team here at Microsoft. Finally, I’d like to call out BCIT for their partnership with TEALS in BC, providing curriculum alignment and ongoing support of TEALS in BC. When we, industry and educators, come together, anything is possible.

Edoardo De Martin
General Manager, Microsoft Vancouver