Tammie Schrader PictureTammie Schrader created a program for her school and district to teach computer programming and coding to middle school students so that they are qualified for jobs in a growing sector.

School: Cheney Middle School

State: Washington

Source: Hope Street Group

Key employers in Washington State, like Microsoft and Boeing, are leaving our state to find qualified employees to fill jobs, and I wanted to help my students qualify for these in-state opportunities.

As a 2013 Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow, I was asked to build a project that improved student learning and success. At the time, I had been working with Dr. Matt Marino at Filament Games to implement educational gaming in education. While working with and serving as an advisor to Filament Games, I discovered that there were programs available for students to not just play games but program to them. I realized that if we could train middle school students on programming and coding, we could expose them to in-state career pathways at a young age.

I developed and implemented a coding program, including a rigorous curriculum and assessment, into my 7th grade science classrooms. Over the course of the year, the work grew beyond my classroom and I worked with district and even state leaders to establish and then pilot a coding class. We also established a partnership with the local university, Eastern Washington University, to provide mentors to our middle school students. We are now holding meetings monthly to implement a region-wide program that would extend to all middle schools in eastern Washington.

Collaboration has been key in this project. Through the work I have done with leaders in my district, state, and community, we have established an elective coding class that is available to all middle school students in our district. Because of this experience and the training I received in building relationships with policymakers, I have also been able to work with our state legislators and advise them on policy that focuses on programming.