TEALS Volunteer Spotlight – Miki Friedmann

Sep 24, 2015   |   Miki Friedmann

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced a $75 million investment in the company’s YouthSpark initiative last week, focused on computer science education. As part of this announcement, Microsoft will also expand its Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program starting Fall 2015, which enables professionals in the tech industry to volunteer and partner with teachers to start computer science programs in high schools. In celebration, we are featuring local teachers in the TEALS program to learn more about how to bring computer science programs to more schools.
 
In New York, TEALS is running programs in Academy for Environmental Leadership, Achievement First Brooklyn High School, Acorn Community High School, Churchill School & Center, Dewitt Clinton High School, East-West School of International Studies, Expeditionary Learning School For Community Leader, Fredrick Douglas Academy, Fredrick Douglas Academy Iv Secondary School, George Westinghouse Career & Technical Ed High School, Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics, High School For Global Citizenship, Millennium Brooklyn High School, The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, School For Human Rights, The High School for Language and Diplomacy, The Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn, The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem and Uncommon Collegiate Charter High School, and we are always looking to expand!

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I distinctly remember the afternoon in high school physics when I decided that one day, some 20+ years into my career, I’d strike a deal with my employer to teach one class at the local high school in the middle of the day. The idea of being taught by someone with real-world experience intrigued me, but more so, I imagined that a professional would bring fresh excitement and enthusiasm about their field in a way that a classroom teacher simply could not.  Little did I know, just three years into my career, I would already have a chance to accomplish what I had considered a pipe dream.

TEALS gives engineers the opportunity to teach and inspire young students at a critical time before most determine what they want to do when they grow up.  The curricula offered by TEALS range widely, from Intro to CS, which makes use of the graphical programming language, Snap!, to Advanced Placement Computer Science in java.  Nevertheless, the goal of both classes is the same: expose students to computer science fundamentals, and ignite their curiosity early, so that when they do start thinking about what they want to do, some will consider Computer Science.

The year 2015 is not a bad time for students to double-down on computer science.  Software engineering ranks in the top ten “happiest” professions year after year, with employees citing comfortable work environments and thoughtful, creative atmospheres.  At the same time, companies across industries are starving for well-qualified engineers in the United States, combining for tens of thousands of unfilled well-paying software jobs each year.  Teaching students the fundamentals of computer science before they’ve already committed to a major in college can very well set them up for a stable work in an otherwise challenging job market.

Just this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York formally recognized the opportunity that Computer Science provides, by calling for every NYC public school to offer a computer science class by 2025.  With so many classroom teachers to train in the next few years, TEALS will be needed in NYC more than ever.

Miki Friedmann is a Software Engineer at Facebook who teaches computer science at George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School as part of the Microsoft TEALS program. After graduating from UPenn, Miki started his career as a software engineer with Amazon and now Facebook.  All the while, he’s had an itch for education.  In 2013, Miki learned about TEALS and volunteered at their first California school in South LA.  Since then, he’s moved to NYC, co-taught an AP class in NY, and is now starting to teach an intro course at George Westinghouse HS.

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