Decatur, AL —September 15, 2020 — Amazon and Decatur City Schools today announced that Amazon is funding computer science education and teacher professional development for 3 elementary schools in the district, impacting more than 1,500 students from underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in tech as part of its Amazon Future Engineer program. Decatur City Schools is part of Amazon Future Engineer’s expansion to more than 5,000 schools, 1,000 of which will be elementary schools. Woodmeade Elementary, West Decatur Elementary, and Eastwood Elementary from Decatur City Schools will launch the project, with hopes to expand to other elementary schools in the next few years.
Amazon is working with BootUp PD, a nonprofit professional development provider specializing in elementary school education, to bring computer science to each school. BootUp PD’s typically in-person professional development sessions adapt well to a virtual model and provide teachers with the tools they need to bring engaging coding lessons to their students both on-screen and in-person. High-quality computer science education for elementary school students during their school day is a critical piece of Amazon’s “childhood to career” approach because it helps bridge equity skill gaps at an age when students are just beginning to formulate ideas about their futures.
“It is critical that children are introduced to computer science at an early age. By laying a strong foundation early, students have a greater opportunity to development important complimentary skills, such as critical thinking and practical problem solving. This way, students are positioned to adapt to new technologies down the road. Likewise, classroom instruction and teaching tools should be as relevant as possible to the outside world. The Amazon Future Engineer program is an incredible resource for us as we prepare our children for the future. I cannot wait to see its valuable impact in our schools,” State House Representative, Terri Collins.
“I am thrilled that our students at Woodmeade will have the opportunity to practice the skills needed to be critical thinkers and contribute to society as future innovators,” said Taunya Smith, Principal at Woodmeade Elementary School.
“This program is going to not only inspire our students, but provide our teachers with more innovative instructional teaching methods,” said Faith Plunkett, the elementary instructional technology coach for Decatur City Schools.
“We’ve been incredibly impressed with the stories we hear of elementary school teachers going above and beyond to keep their young students engaged, learning and smiling, especially during these difficult times,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon. “As students from across the country begin school – whether virtually or in person – we are confident that Amazon Future Engineer’s focus on younger students in need will be a helpful tool for teachers as they prepare all of their students for a bright future.”
"This opportunity will close equity gaps by ensuring computer science learning opportunities for students in under-served communities throughout the nation,” said Clark Merkley, BootUp PD’s Executive Director. “It is the first ongoing national sponsorship focused on implementing sustainable, district-wide computer science. We’re extremely proud to be a part of something that will have a measurable, positive impact for decades to come.”
Amazon’s commitment to Decatur City Schools is part of its $50 million investment to increase access to computer science/STEM education across the country, primarily through Amazon Future Engineer. In addition, Amazon has donated more than $20 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education. Already in Alabama, there are more than 50 high schools participating in the Amazon Future Engineer program.
“Businesses all over the world invest in our region because of our engineers. As a city, we are committed to providing a world-class workforce now and in the future. I am grateful for Amazon’s partnership with our schools. The Amazon Future Engineer program is a major investment in our workforce pipeline and our effort to foster exceptionally talented and skilled people for the long term,” Decatur Mayor, Tab Bowling.
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