Each year, Amazon recognizes 10 dynamic teachers for their work to inspire students from underserved and historically underrepresented communities to pursue careers in computer science and robotics. The award comes with a prize package of $30,000, which includes $25,000 to expand computer science and/or robotics education at his school and a $5,000 teacher cash award. The following educators are this year’s recipients:
- Mark Ahrens, Texas High School, Texarkana, TX
- Cesar Barreto, Explorations Academy, Bronx, NY
- Sheena Birgans-Wright, Prairie-Hills Junior High School, Markham, IL
- Harold Brown, Newark Collegiate Academy, Newark, NJ
- Melissa Collins, John P. Freeman Optional School, Memphis, TN
- Christopher Hatten, KIPP Central City Academy, New Orleans, LA
- Lorand Incze, Alisal High School, Salinas, CA
- Terry Laesser, Melvindale High School, Melvindale, MI
- Aris Pangilinan, Cardozo Education Campus, Washington, D.C.
- Michelle Pierce, Mallard Creek STEM Academy, Charlotte, NC
“It has been an especially difficult year for teachers, so we are excited to recognize their hard work and commitment to their students’ successes,” said Victor Reinoso, global director, Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon in the Community. “The Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipients work diligently to help students in underserved and underrepresented communities build life-changing skills to propel their futures in computer science. We celebrate their tireless efforts to increase access to technology and computer literacy in their classrooms and beyond.”
Recipients were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within computer science education, a recommendation from a school administrator, and compelling, personal anecdotes about their schools and students. Scholarship America reviewed the applications and selected the 10 award recipients.
Teachers learned of the honor when their principals and fellow colleagues surprised them with an Amazon box filled with Amazon Future Engineer swag. Each of the award-winning teachers received a prize package valued at more than $30,000, which includes $25,000 to expand computer science and/or robotics education at their respective schools, as well as a $5,000 cash award for each educator to celebrate their exemplary work with students.
Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a small percentage from underrepresented communities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the market for computer science professionals will grow 11% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the average for all other occupations.