Computer Science programs receive state grant

Times Observer file photo Four WCSD teachers will receive training to provide more computer programming classed to Warren County students.

Students in Warren County School District will soon be diving deeper into computer programming.

Thanks to a state grant, four district teachers will train between February and August to implement grade-appropriate computer science curriculum.

Governor Tom Wolf announced $8.7 million in PASmart Grant awards on Thursday.

The district will receive up to $35,000, and will spend it in two phases.

In the first phase, the four teachers, including Jessica McElhaney, the district’s business and computer curriculum coordinator, will undergo training. This is not a case of teachers taking time out of their normal school day.

“Some of the professional development is done in the summer,” Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Eric Mineweaser said. “It’s a rather large undertaking.”

The four teachers who were willing to commit to the training represent Eisenhower Middle School, Eisenhower Elementary School, Youngsville Elementary Middle School, and Warren Area Elementary Center.

After the teachers are ready, the district will use the remainder of the grant — $26,800 — for hardware and software purchases necessary to implement the coding curriculum.

The district offers required computer courses.

The district will still make sure students are introduced to Microsoft Excel and Word, but the new programming is in another direction.

“Computer Science Discoveries curriculum — problem-solving, web development, animations and games — those are the kinds of things that can be done,” Mineweaser said. “We’re going to be diving in a little bit more into some computer science principles.”

“It’s a good step,” he said. “It’s a good start for us.”

“Over the next decade, seven in ten new jobs in Pennsylvania will require workers to use computers and new technologies in a constantly changing economy,” Wolf said in the PASmart release. “With these grants more students will get the skills they need for emerging high-demand jobs.”