'Berg gets grant to offer computer science endorsement, free for K-12 teachers

Beginning this fall, K-12 teachers will have an opportunity to gain a Computer Science Teacher Endorsement through Heidelberg University, free of charge.

That’s because Heidelberg has received $290,000 in funds from the Teach CS Grant through the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). The grant will provide funding for 1,100 Ohio educators to receive computer science training and it’s expected that 650 of those will become qualified to teach computer science. A total of $6 million is being awarded to 17 education institutions across the state to cover the cost of this professional development opportunity.

The overarching goal is to increase the number of existing teachers who qualify to teach computer science. That will happen through supplemental licensure, university endorsement programs like the one Heidelberg is offering, and alternative resident educator licenses, according to ODHE. A total of 11 colleges and universities in Ohio, along with six educational service centers, are receiving Teach CS grant funds.

When the endorsement program kicks off this fall, Heidelberg will be able to provide funding for up to 29 educators from across the region to pursue the endorsement, said Dr. Dawn Henry, director of the School of Education, and one of the grant authors. While current Heidelberg undergraduate education students and teachers already working in K-12 schools are eligible to take endorsement coursework, only K-12 teachers will receive grant funding.

Here's how it works

Teachers who enroll in this continuing education opportunity at Heidelberg will complete four computer science courses, totaling 12 credit hours: Fundamentals of Computer Science, Computational Problem Solving, How to Think Like a Data Scientist or Spreadsheet Modeling (students choose one), and Computer Science Methods and Field Experience. All of the courses for the CS Endorsement will be taught by Heidelberg faculty members, Dawn explained.

Courses will be offered in eight-week terms with an asynchronous format. So in theory, educators could complete the coursework for their endorsement in a year or less.

And the best part: course tuition, books, software and testing fees are covered by the grant, as is a laptop computer for students who need one.

“For the student, not only will teachers get a K-12 endorsement to add to their base license, they’ll get 12 additional hours toward the renewal of their teaching license as well,” Dawn said. “Those additional hours also could be applied toward possible advancement on their district’s salary schedule. Over time, that could represent a significant increase in pay.”

Sean Joyce, associate professor of Computer Science at Heidelberg, said the CS endorsement program is “an opportunity to expose more students to Heidelberg’s strong program, especially in light of AI, which is not going away.”

Sean and his colleagues will be adapting currently existing computer science courses to fit the asynchronous (online) format. They are in the process of finalizing the development of the final course which will include 50 hours of field experience.

Opportunity draws early interest

Already, a cohort of educators have expressed interest in the CS endorsement program.

“Several of our teachers have expressed interest in pursuing this endorsement through Heidelberg. Their enthusiasm is a testament to the relevance and importance of the program. This grant will provide invaluable opportunities for our educators to enhance their skills and, in turn, contribute to the academic growth of our students,” said Dr. Laura Kagy, superintendent of Seneca East Local Schools.

“As a superintendent, I appreciate Heidelberg’s efforts to broaden the scope of education program offerings, especially in a field as critical as computer science. We are confident that this partnership between our teachers and Heidelberg University, supported by the grant, will contribute significantly to preparing our students for success beyond high school.”

Kimberly Swartz, director of Curriculum & Instruction for Bellevue City Schools, knows that the program will be high quality and beneficial to her district’s teachers.

“I appreciate the development of high-quality coursework put forth in a sequence that builds and helps students retain information long term,” Swartz said. “Heidelberg University offers this kind of quality education for our teachers seeking professional development. The possibility of earning endorsements for our educators is exciting!”

Preparing students for their future

Ultimately, the teachers who complete the computer science endorsement will be positioned to help prepare their students for the future.

“The demand for tech skills is increasing daily and more students are seeking computer science classes to prepare them for their future,” said Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted in announcing the grant program. “However, we can’t offer more computer science classes without preparing a larger pool of qualified teachers who can help them earn these in-demand skills. … We are removing barriers for teachers who want to teach computer science in Ohio’s K-12 classrooms so they can better educate Ohio’s future workforce.”

ODHE Chancellor Mike Duffey added, “We are excited to help Ohio teachers pursue their dreams while helping their students reach theirs. This is a step forward toward artificial intelligence, mobile app development, quantum computing, cybersecurity and much more. “

Teach CS grants are a partnership between Innovate Ohio, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, ODHE and the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce.

How to apply

K-12 teachers can apply for the program here or call the School of Education at (419)-448-2125 for additional information.

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