Northern Community Colleges Create New Program For Future Computer Science Teachers

Jun 11, 2020

NWCCD computer science instructor Mark Thoney helps two students figure out a coding problem during class on Sept. 15, 2019.
Credit Ryan Shippy/NWCCD

The Northern Wyoming Community College District is offering a new online program that will train high school and middle school teachers how to teach computer science.

In 2018, the state legislature passed a bill requiring schools to offer computer science classes by 2022. That means middle school and high school teachers need to get official endorsement from the state standard's board before they can teach the subject.

Mark Thoney, computer science instructor with the district, said after taking the 16 credit hour program, teachers will receive a certificate of completion. The certificate program was recently approved by the Wyoming Community College Commission. Then the teachers will apply for an endorsement from the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB).

"Teachers can take that to the state of Wyoming, and the state of Wyoming has agreed that our curriculum satisfied that requirement and if everything else checks out, then PTSB will award a computer science endorsement," Thoney said.

Only teachers who will be teaching computer sciences in grades six through 12 will need an endorsement from PTSB, he said.

Thoney said he recommends teachers only taking one class per semester if they are also teaching at the same time. He added having the class online gives flexibility for teachers from all over the state to take the classes from their homes and when it won't interfere with school.

"They can work on their classes without having to travel. And I think that helps find a way to facilitate getting teachers the training they need to get the endorsement so they can teach computer science for students," he said.

Thoney said they have structured the program so teachers can easily adapt what they are learning into lessons for students.

"We make sure that hey if you're going to learn something in the course we're going to have you take, that that should be applicable in the classroom immediately," he said.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.