Ford sophomore Dylan Fuentecilla and senior Isaac Harris work on an algorithm to correctly make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich during their AP computer science class, where volunteer Doug Hartley, right, is teaching.

Ford sophomore Dylan Fuentecilla and senior Isaac Harris work on an algorithm to correctly make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich during their AP computer science class, where volunteer Doug Hartley, right, is teaching.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Ike grad returns to UCS for volunteer tech teaching

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published September 10, 2019

 Advanced Placement computer science teacher Jamie Davis oversees her class at  Henry Ford II High School Sept. 5 while volunteer Doug Hartley,  of Macomb Township, assists in the background.

Advanced Placement computer science teacher Jamie Davis oversees her class at Henry Ford II High School Sept. 5 while volunteer Doug Hartley, of Macomb Township, assists in the background.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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Eisenhower High School graduate Doug Hartley remembers his junior high school days back in 2010, when he wrote down some future goals. 

Those goals included becoming the CEO of Apple, working at Apple and becoming a teacher.

Today, Hartley, 23, is an Oakland University senior who is studying computer science. But as a volunteer with Microsoft’s Technology Education and Literacy in Schools program, he is also living out one of his dreams by teaching computer science to Henry Ford II High School students. 

“I’ve always had that curiosity ever since elementary school and junior high,” Hartley said. “I wasn’t certain at the time that I would want to pursue something in that (education) field, but nonetheless, it was a curiosity in my mind. It was something I always wanted to try out.” 

UCS officials say the TEALS program is giving high schoolers a window into the world of future science, technology, engineering and math careers. This year for the first time, Utica Community Schools is introducing these volunteers — many who work professionally — into the four main high schools’ Advanced Placement computer science courses.

Hartley said he enjoyed his first week of teaching through the TEALS program, and he loves seeing students become motivated and successful.

For instance, he said he recently taught a basic overview of algorithms, or step-by-step instructions to solve a particular problem. As a way of exploring the concept, the class split into groups to write down “very detailed” instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“Most of the students weren’t detailed enough,” he said. “We actually allowed them to rearrange some of the steps or be more detailed to accomplish the task.”

Hartley is volunteering in the classroom of Ford computer science teacher Jamie Davis, who explained how Hartley and a second volunteer — a tech industry professional with over 20 years of experience — will monitor and guide students. 

“They will be teaching lessons,” Davis said. “It’s going to start out with me teaching lessons. Then the three of us will kind of rotate.”

Davis said her class will be learning the Java and Python programming languages this year, and she hopes the TEALS volunteers will spark students’ interest and excitement about making computers their vocation.

“They’ve been in the industry, and (students) can get their perspective on it,” she said. “Computer science is a field that is underfilled. We’re hoping it kind of opens a career path for them. I also hope the TEALS volunteers enjoy it.”

According to an email from TEALS regional manager Andrew Spiece, the partnership with UCS will “dramatically” enlarge the district’s computer science program. 

He said it will add three new courses in six UCS schools. More specifically, it will support a high school Advanced Placement course, as well as expand ninth grade course offerings at Jeannette and Shelby junior high schools, he said.

Spiece said that over 25 volunteers are working at least twice a week with the teachers in the morning. Some volunteers are situated out of state and interact remotely with the classes.

“We have volunteers from California, Washington, Toronto, Ann Arbor and locally helping in these classrooms,” he said. “Volunteers are the experts in the content, and the teachers are the experts on teaching and learning on each teaching team.”

He said the volunteers applied online and underwent an interview process covering their skills and background. During the summer, they met with UCS teachers and did training.

“Volunteers go through 40 hours of training over the summer, both online and in person, and receive ongoing training throughout the year,” Spiece said. “Regional managers observe the classroom to support volunteers by giving feedback on their instructional methods.”

While Hartley said he enjoys volunteering for TEALS, he still hopes to pursue a career path in the tech world upon graduating from college, and his dream job is to perform quality assurance testing for Apple. But he said he’d be open to continue teaching on the side.

“I definitely get to see the other side of the classroom now,” he said. “I kind of know what professors and teachers go through when they complete lesson plans. It opened up my eyes to so many things that I wouldn’t have thought of as a student.”

Find out more about Utica Community Schools by visiting www.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1000. Learn more about the TEALS program by visiting  www.tealsk12.org/volunteers.

Call Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at (586) 498-1058.

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