By DONNA HARRIS
Cartersville City Schools is getting some financial help for training more teachers in a career field that’s in desperate need of highly skilled employees.
The school system received $25,000 from another round of Georgia Department of Education grants intended to help districts increase teacher capacity in computer science education.
On Dec. 21, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced GaDOE was awarding grants totaling $645,000 to 30 school districts across the state for computer science teacher training.
“It’s our job as educators to prepare students not for the world of today but for the world of tomorrow,” Woods said in a news release. “Children in public schools today need to be equipped to build successful lives in the future. Focusing on computer science as an essential K-12 discipline ensures students are prepared not just with technical skills but with experience in problem-solving and real-world thinking that will serve them well in any career they choose.”
Funds were awarded through a competitive application process, with priority given to school systems serving highly impoverished and/or rural communities.
CCS Superintendent Dr. Marc Feuerbach was happy the district received the grant, 85% of which must be spent on professional learning.
“We are very excited to be awarded the computer science grant, which will assist us in building an exceptionally robust and relevant program to equip our students for an ever-increasing job market,” he said.
Feuerbach said the school system’s educators are “committed to equipping our students with skills that will make them successful and relevant in the job market of today and in the future.”
“Offering our students the ability to acquire a high depth of knowledge in coding and computer science, a portfolio of industry-authentic projects, tech industry-recognized certifications and work-based learning and industry-simulated experiences is vital,” he said.
Computer science has become a high-demand career across multiple industries and includes skills all students need to learn.
So far, the biggest challenge for school districts in building the new discipline is increasing teaching capacity – there are currently 403 credentialed CS teachers – up from 250 teachers in 2019 – and 1,000 middle and high schools in Georgia, according to the release.
This grant is designed to help mitigate that gap by providing funding for teachers to participate in professional learning opportunities, including credential programs.
“As the U.S. technology industry continues to grow, the shortage of highly skilled, qualified workers to fill coding jobs is becoming more pronounced,” Feuerbach said. “This is especially true for the Atlanta metro area, ranked in the Top 10 metro areas for tech jobs, where in 2019 there were 100,000 tech job postings that require coding as a skill set.”
The CS grants are “another great step forward in ensuring Georgia becomes the Technology Capital of the East Coast,” Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said in the release.
“Just recently, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, which is spearheading our effort to make Georgia the Tech Capital of the East Coast, designated STEM K-12 education as one of its top priorities for additional growth,” he said. “I want to thank the Department of Education and Superintendent Richard Woods for continuing this critical program, which helps build a strong educational foundation for Georgia’s children.”
Feuerbach said details on how many and which teachers will receive training from the grant money haven’t been finalized yet.
“We will be collaborating with other districts who also received the grant,” he said. “The trainings should start in late January or February.”
The grant is aligned to GaDOE’s Roadmap to Reimagining K-12 Education, which calls for setting the expectation that every child in every part of the state has access to a well-rounded education, including computer science.