As an Algebra teacher at Laurel High School in Prince George’s County, I am passionate about encouraging students to pursue their interests in technology. My hope is that Maryland can be a beacon of excellence in the fields of technology, computer science and digital art, an accomplishment I know would change the lives of my students and our surrounding community.
I was thrilled to have the chance to be part of the Maryland Chamber Foundation Teacher Externship Program and spend my summer with Amazon. My focus during the externship was to learn ways to use computer science and Amazon operational principles to teach students about a growth mindset, creativity and self-confidence so that each student can discover what they believe and begin to take steps towards those dreams.
I have continuously been an advocate for more black and brown individuals like myself to be in the technology fields. Computer science and engineering are the basis behind the advancement of our technological society. I view it as my responsibility to take my knowledge in the fields of engineering, math, computer science and technology and share it with the next generation of leaders in the tech industry. With this focus, I reflected on the many experiences at Amazon and George Mason University to create strategies that would help our students become actively engaged in computer science and technological fields.
One activity that was very insightful into the industry and career paths was a AWS Cloud Workshop. The background behind the workshop was the most insightful because it showed that a person could have an idea, create a prototype, present their ideas to others and have their idea adopted and implemented into a program initiative. This is a great story for students to understand that their ideas can be manifested into a real functional product by simply taking steps forward. Additionally, this activity was insightful because it allowed students to learn while interacting with a game. With the emergence of gaming, this will help our students understand how games are created so that they can be creators of technology rather than just users of technology.
The Teacher Externship Program was valuable for me, but it also gave Amazon the opportunity to connect with teachers who are interacting with the students – their potential future employees – daily. They gained insight into how the company can truly support teachers and begin initiatives to help advance our youth. Amazon gained valuable knowledge about how computer science can be implemented in the classroom, especially in underserved communities. As Amazon develops their Amazon Future Engineer Program, the teachers were able to give Amazon detailed strategies teachers use and challenges that the teachers have with engaging students in computer science and technological curriculums. The insight they received will be major processes that they will use to make their Amazon Future Engineers program reach more students and continue in their success.
Prince George’s County predominantly enrolls African American and Hispanic students, and opportunities like this will not only change the lives of our participating students, but also our greater geological community and beyond. Opportunities are stepping-stones, giving hope and inspiration to brilliant young minds who will one day become our world’s next leaders in the tech field. Our students have gifts within themselves waiting to be birthed and we can help guide their innovations by providing them with the technological and computer science exposure, training, platforms and knowledge so that they can fulfill their visions of a better society.