Computer science booming in Alabama

Alabama is leading the nation in bringing computer science courses to the classroom.{} In fact, teachers are going back to school to learn how to instruct students in computer science. This is the third year for computer science training for teachers at{}the University of Alabama campus. 22 new schools are part of the training.{} These teachers know computer science is a fast growing industry, especially in Alabama. Nidia Fernandez-Lee teaches at Shades Valley High School in Jefferson County. This will be her first year teaching computer science.{} "I have no previous computer programming background,"{}she says. "This year,{}I am teaching a class that Alabama is offering called CS principles or computer science principles, which will soon become an (advanced placement) class."Fernandez is one of nearly two dozen teachers at the University of Alabama campus this week, learning the basics of computer science education.{} "They've really given me an idea of what I'm going to be teaching," said Fernandez-Lee. "It's fabulous to know that what I'm going to be teaching is something the kids can apply immediately, they can relate it to the real world." Duana Shears is another first timer. She teaches at Thompson High School.{}"I know a lot of the students will know a lot, if not more than what I may possibly know."That's not uncommon. Computer science courses are intended for students to take a hands on approach, while the teachers offer guidance. More teachers are needed to instruct computer science.{} A grant made it possible to train teachers from Alabama and hundreds more online.{} "We are part of a National Science Foundation funded grant for a million dollars to grow computer science in the state of Alabama,"{}says Jill Westerlund, a computer{}science and coding teacher at Hoover{}High School.{}This is{}Westerlund's third summer working with teachers at{}UA's campus.{} She says computer science education is about to explode in central Alabama.{} "Almost 60 schools in Alabama have computer science now. And 50 of them did not, three years ago."Ultimately, Westerlund says these teachers are pioneers. "I think computer science is growing across our state as more people hear about this. I'm very proud that our state has opened all these doors." The workshop will continue at the University of Alabama through Friday. The plan for next year is for teachers to attend advanced placement summer institutes to receive college board training to teach computer science and coding as an{}AP course.
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