Hollis touts computer science at national events

Shelly Hollis

A Mississippi State staff member working to implement the state’s new Computer Science for Mississippi pilot program is engaging at the highest levels of discussion about technology education.

Shelly Hollis twice visited the White House during September for national programs on computer science training in public schools.

At mid-month, Hollis served as Mississippi’s representative to “#CSforAll,” an invitation-only event focused on President Obama’s initiative to expand computer science availability in all U.S. schools.

Project manager with the university-based Research and Curriculum Unit, Hollis and other special Washington, D.C., guests were asked to provide updates on training initiatives in their respective states. They also discussed ways to ensure the country maintains a steady supply of licensed CS teachers.

Two weeks later, she returned to the nation’s capital for a meeting organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy that examined the current state of computer science in K-12 education.

A computer science graduate of Huntington College in Montgomery, Alabama, Hollis is an RCU core-team member currently working to implement CS4MS, Mississippi’s pilot program.

The project is led by the Mississippi Department of Education with assistance from the RCU and is developing best practices to address the urgent need for more qualified workers in computer science and related fields.

CS4MS hopes to have a comprehensive K-12 computer science curriculum in place for all Magnolia State public schools by 2024. “The wheels of change are in motion to make sure computer science becomes a core subject for all students,” Hollis said.

At present, 235 teachers at 156 schools in nearly 40 school districts are part of the pilot program, she added.

Emphasizing how computer science “has become too interwoven into our daily lives not to educate our students on the fundamentals of the subject,” she said there is a critical need “to prepare as many students as possible to lead the way for future computing innovations.”

“The highlight for me was getting to work with so many leaders in the field of computer science,” Hollis said. During the gatherings, she and other participants examined both barriers and solutions to getting more students interested in pursuing teaching careers. The minimum number of courses necessary for teacher licensure also was covered.

Hollis said she believes MSU is positioned to “play an important role” in defining these issues “for our state and, possibly, the nation.”

More on the RCU project is found via the revolving “News” link at rcu.msstate.edu and at cs4ms.org.

Details on the Obama Administration’s “#CSforAll” initiative are found at whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/01/30/computer-science-all.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Anne Hierholzer | Research and Curriculum Unit

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