Computer Science – HHS

Technology is both a necessary and unavoidable part of life.  Endless amounts of information are available in an instant.  Need directions to a new place?  Type the address into the phone.  In a hurry to check out at the grocery?  Use the automated self-scanners.  Need an update on the score for the basketball game?  Just pull one of hundreds of sports apps on the phone and check it.  Along with this cultural shift comes a need for skills in the field of technology.  At Haywood High School, students are being exposed early to various types of computer science skills.

First year computer teacher, Rachel Savage, is introducing students to different options in the field of computer science.

“We’ve got Computer Science Discoveries (CSD) as our introductory course, then Mobile App Development (MAD), and our third course is Computer Science Principles (CSP) which is an AP course.  Each of the classes build on one another,” she said. “The AP class is a dual credit course if the students pass the test at the end of the course.”

Earlier this semester, Haywood High School was recognized for female diversity in its AP CSP class, and that’s something that Rachel wants to continue to grow.

“We were recognized for female diversity in our AP CSP class.  We really push for female enrollment in these courses because there’s such a low percentage of females in the computer science field,” she explained.  “It’s encouraging because we’re seeing growth in female interest in the computer classes, specifically the Mobile App Development class.”

While job opportunities abound for females in the computer science field, occupations in technology are growing so fast that it’s hard to fill positions which means there are a lot of opportunities for all students to pursue careers.

“Computer Science is an occupation that’s in high demand right now – from entry level certifications all the way to graduate and doctorate positions.  Because tech is growing so fast, almost everything in our daily lives is computer based. Programs aren’t graduating students fast enough to have those jobs filled, so there’s a tremendous opportunity for our students if they pursue a career in this field,” Rachel said.

While students won’t be “career ready” immediately after graduating high school, they will definitely have a head start on post-secondary options compared to their peers.

“If a student goes through our program, they’ll have a head start with post-secondary options once they graduate.  We do website coding in CSD; we do mobile app coding in MAD and even more app coding is CSP with added, user-friendly displays.  Depending on where they go and what direction they pursue, students will have a base knowledge of the skills required,” Rachel explained.  “ The most important thing for the students is being exposed to different options within computer science.  Oftentimes, you either love it or hate it, and it’s important to know whether or not you like something before pursuing it.”

Not only are students exposed to different types of computer science skills, they are also building a technology knowledge base that can serve as a foundation for future educational pursuits.  

“Exposing the students to different types of computer science gives them a foot in the door should they choose to work toward a specific area whether it’s gaming, animation, or coding,” Rachel said.

Along with the exposure to the subject of computer science, Rachel wants to make sure she is also providing the right direction for students to pursue their options as they relate to computer science.

“We really want to start making sure our students know where to look for post-secondary options because there are so many routes,” she said.

She gave a real-life example of how exposure to the different skill sets taught in computer science classes enabled a student to have the knowledge and confidence to pursue her choice in a career.

“There was a student last year who took our AP class, and she wanted to pursue a career in fraud investigation and cyber security breaches.  She wasn’t aware that computer science stretched into so many different fields until she took the class,” Rachel said.

The main focus of any educational program is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to pursue multiple post-secondary options.  Computer Science at Haywood High School is doing just that.