LAKELAND, Fla. — When Reynolds Road in Lakeland gets a new turn lane, civil engineer Veronica Perez can take credit for it.
- Initiative to get more women, people of color in STEM fields
- Teacher learning how to implement computer science curriculum in their schools
- LINK: Code.org site for more about professional learning
- More Education headlines
"I can tell my family that that's my first project that I worked on and that's really exciting," Perez said.
Perez, a recent graduate of Florida Polytechnic University, just started working at RK&K in Lakeland last May. It's a rewarding career, she says, but one where she stands out.
"Whenever I got to college and I didn't see anybody look like me or that I could connect with, it was difficult and I even thought about dropping out cause, you know, I just felt so alone," she said.
Now, educators want to change that — leading an initiative to get more women and people of color in STEM fields.
The Tampa Bay Stem Network is partnering with Code.org to provide a quarter of a million dollars to expand computer science in Bay Area school districts.
Sixty-four middle and high school teachers from school districts in Tampa Bay have the chance to take part in Code.org's professional learning program — where they'll learn how to implement computer science curriculum in their schools.
"It's always been by activating the teacher, that's really been the core of the movement," said Larry Plank, director of K-12 STEM for Hillsborough County Public Schools.
Fifty-two teachers in Hillsborough County took part in the program last year and have begun implementing the curriculum in schools.
"We're seeing kids that are excited to learn things that they think school should be teaching them, and in many cases, the kids are saying this is the most exciting class they have throughout the school day," Plank said.
Perez recalls the lack of STEM classes and resources when she was a student at Plant City High School, and thinks the funding will have a huge impact on students.
"I think teachers learning about that is extremely important, because I wish I had somebody in high school and middle school who was really teaching me and helping me through this," Perez said.
Educators interested in applying can find more information here.