Microsoft program teaches Lee Co. students computer skills

Beattyville, Ky. (WYMT)-- Lee County High School partners with Microsoft to teach computer science skills to students.

The Technology Education and Literacy in Schools or TEALS program uses instructors from Microsoft to teach students introductory and A.P. Computer Science classes remotely, and check in with the students from time to time in person.

Their goal, however is to eventually allow local teachers to take over those classes.

"Starting next school year, I will have more involvement in doing some of the lecturing, said Joy Neace, Lee County High School teacher.

She plans to take over the class entirely the year after next.

Justin Austin, who takes the A.P. Computer Science class plans to take that experience into his college major.

""I've always like messing with them [computers] and now I can make them do things with programs, and growing up, I always like to play computer games."

Lee County School Board Chairman William Owens hopes to see the program spread, but was glad to see it come to Lee County.

"Seemed like our counties here were left out a lot of times," said Owens.

Students also expanded their reach with a trip to Washington state.

"We got to see all the sights of Seattle and tour Microsoft, Google, Facebook and their offices in Seattle, and got to meet engineers that work there," Austin said.

While the students also got a mountain view in Washington, the mountains of Eastern Kentucky helped bring the program to Lee County.

Audrey Sniezek visits Red River Gorge frequently and works for Microsoft.

A conversation with Owens' son at the Lee County Recreation center led her to talk to Owens, beginning the process that lead to TEALS coming to Eastern Kentucky.

"Having spent a lot of time in the region, I just wanted to see if there's anything I can do to help the community," said Sniezek.

She also feels the exposure can give students the idea that a career with computers is possible.

"If the kids don't see a computer scientist and what that means, they're less likely to pick that as a career choice," Sniezek said.

She also feels projects like TEALS can help drive the economy forward.

"They're looking for technology and other means to help build a sustainable economy so people don't just abandon these towns and they become ghost towns."

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