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K-12 Teachers Taking Computer Science Courses at LSUS

October 19, 2016

There is a growing shortage of computer science graduates in America. By the year 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor has estimated there will be one million unfilled computer science job openings due to a lack of qualified applicants.

In 2015, Dr. Cay Evans, retired professor and director of graduate programs at LSUS, discovered that the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) offers a teaching certification in the field of computer science. The existing teachers in the schools of Northwest Louisiana must generally be certified in a certain academic discipline before they will be allowed to teach. However, once they are certified in one discipline, they may choose to pursue a second, or add-on certification, in another discipline. Added certifications usually lead to a boost in pay for a teacher because they offer school principals greater options when scheduling classes for a given school semester.

Dr. Evans, Dr. Jon Baarsch, instructor of English, and Dr. Jere Hatcher, director of economic and community development, have started a seven-course program in computer science that will satisfy the certification requirements of the LDOE. Dr. Al McKinney, retired professor of computer science, was asked to come out of retirement to help teach the needed courses. He is also the chair of the computer science department.

As more teachers secure the add-on certification in computer science, there will be more qualified teachers available to stimulate an interest in the subject in area schools. This increase in teachers and classes in computer science will produce an increase in the number of students who are exposed to this STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) discipline.
As a result, LSUS should begin to see an increase in the number of students entering the computer science degree programs. Area information technology firms are being asked to help support the program because the eventual LSUS graduates will be available to help meet future hiring needs of these firms.

The first course, Programming Fundamentals with Python, was offered this past June, and the second course, Principles of Programming with Java, is underway now. Future courses will include such topics as Computer Graphics, Robotics, Computer Gaming, Computer Networks and Cyber Security.

The course being offered in the current semester consists of six teachers from schools in Caddo, Red River, and Bossier parishes.

If you know teachers who are interested in the program, please ask them to contact Dr. McKinney at 318.797.5300.

PHOTO: (From left to right) Participants in the second course for computer science: Dr. Al McKinney, course instructor; Joanne Church, Green Acres Middle School; Terry Sermons, Byrd High School; Barbara Joseph, The Montessori School for Shreveport; Karen Meadows, E.B Stoner Hill Elementary School; Annette Newberry, T. L. Rhodes School; Adam Rabo, Parkway High School; and Dr. Jere Hatcher.

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