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Microsoft employees give tech lessons in area schools

SEATTLE — Taking some of the brightest minds in the community and putting them into the classroom is what the TEALS program is about.

TEALS, which stands for Technology Education and Literacy in Schools, is a growing, grassroots program at Microsoft that is becoming appealing for schools across the country.

Robert El-Soudani, a software development engineer at Microsoft, isn’t a student or teacher, but he starts his morning at Hazen High School in Renton. As a participant in the TEALS program, El-Soudani spends his time teaching students AP computer science.

TEALS “teachers” volunteer to be in the classroom four to five days a week throughout the school year.

“When I heard about Microsoft employees being at my school, teaching me how to be like these cool guys, I took the chance,” Adrian Schavez said.

When the program launched in 2010 it had 10 volunteer teachers. Now, more than 120 volunteers in 37 schools and seven states make up TEALS.

“Think of it as a nonprofit that’s being incubated inside of Microsoft — I’m pretty sure that’s a first,” said Kevin Wang, TEALS founder.

“It’s really important because a lot of these guys had a teacher to inspire them to get where they are today and they want to do the same thing,” he said.

“You see the light bulb go on — it takes one time and you feel like wow, this is really cool,” said Al Giffords, a TEALS teacher at Truman High School.

Wang said there are about 120,000 new positions each year for people with a computer science background, but local colleges and universities only produce about 40,000 people with those skills a year.

If you would like to learn more about the TEALS program, visit their website.

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