Teach Computer Science To Kids On Your Way To Work

A few months ago, I read about this amazing program called TEALS that allows software engineers to stop by a local school on their way to work and teach computer science to high school students. I thought "what an amazing idea".

Fast forward and I am happy to tell you that TEALS is coming to NYC this fall. About a dozen public high schools in NYC have expressed interest and the final group of participating schools will be nailed down in the next few weeks.

The way this works is a software engineer literally stops by the school on his or her way to work, teaches the class in partnership with one of the existing teachers in the school, and is out the door on the way to work before any of his or her colleagues is out of bed. The TEALS program teaches two classes, an Intro To CS class based on the Berkeley curriculum, and an AP CS class based on the University of Washington curriculum. Software engineers who choose to participate get trained during the summer to teach one or both, and then they teach up to a few days a week on the way to work.

THE ASK: We need to recruit up to 50 software engineers here in NYC to make this a reality. The first info session is next Monday, March 4th, at 6pm. It will be held at the Microsoft office in midtown. If you would like to attend, let us know, and we will put you on the RSVP list.

There will be a second info session at USV on March 20th at 6pm and Kevin Wang, founder of TEALS, will be talking at the NY Tech Meetup on the evening of March 19th as well. So if you can't make next monday evening, there will be a few more chances to learn about this amazing program.

In other "CS in NYC schools" news, the the Dept of Education is rolling out a CS curriculum in 20 middle schools and high schools this fall. The Mayor will announce the 20 schools that are getting this CS curriculum today. There will be participating schools in all 5 boroughs. Approximately 50 students per school will participate, so this program will reach around 1,000 students, starting this fall. 

And there are a number of other interesting programs bubbling up all around the city which I can't or shouldn't talk about yet. All of this happening in addition to the dedicated school model (AFSE) that I have written about a few times here at AVC. This is all a reflection of the dedication of folks in City Hall and the DOE to bring more CS opportunities to our kids here in NYC. It's a fantastic thing and I am very excited by all of this.

NOTE: MBA Mondays is taking a break, probably for just this monday, but it could be a bit longer. I need to figure out where to go next.

#hacking education#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. John Revay

    I am glad that you continue to work to bring CS downstream….I wish I could help out in that regard.Re: MBA Mondays is taking a break, probably for just this monday, but it could be a bit longer. I need to figure out where to go next.I may have suggested in the past as I am sure others have – why not poll your professor friends at some of the BSchools you visit and talk at and ask them to suggest a list of current topics for you to comment on.

    1. fredwilson

      i will be at HBS tomorrow and will do that

      1. John Revay

        or better yet – ask some of the consumers in the room

  2. William Mougayar

    Oh no, I just passed 3 high-schools on my drive to work & could have stopped in and taught them about Entrepreneurship & Startups. Why limit it just to Programming?Kudos to the University of Washington! That’s where I got my undergraduate degree in EE and where I learned assembly language & Fortran, both useless today, but it was a good foundation.

      1. William Mougayar

        That statistic is mind-boggling Wow.

    1. Cam MacRae

      Fortran useless? Hardly. It is still very widely used for scientific computing.

      1. William Mougayar

        Wow…I’ll know where to get a job then if I need one 🙂

      2. ShanaC

        i hear more about matlab 🙂

        1. Cam MacRae

          You could insert the name of a dozen other environments into that sentence and not be wrong. Still, when you’ve got a supercomputer sized problem your mex is in probably delegating to fortran.

      3. JamesHRH

        Grade 8, I used a card punch & Fortran.

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      Do it William. High Schoolers are mature enough to learn the real thing. Most presume they’re going to get paid to look at Facebook.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      It’s been a long time since I’ve heard Fortran used in a sentence. The other day at a coffee shop I overheard a guy say the words COBOL and mainframe and did a double-take.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Most expensive programmer I know is a COBOL guy. Earns more in a month than most ruby-rockstar-ninja-pirates earn in a year.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          R. E. S. P. E. C. T.null

  3. awaldstein

    Great idea.This type of program reminds me of my dad in spirit. PHD in physics who decided to go back and teach science at his high school in Paterson to empower kids from the blue collar neighborhoods he grew up in.if i had a company with engineers in NYC, I would be a huge booster of this to my team.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s awesome Arnold

    2. JamesHRH

      Pops was something.

      1. awaldstein

        Yup….His students are still tracking me down to thank me. Amazing.

    3. laurie kalmanson

      super awesome. a neighbor’s dad is a retired doctor, and he goes and teaches high school biology workshops just for fun … same flavor of amazing.

  4. Trish Fontanilla

    I love the idea of this. I think mentorship and teaching seem so inaccessible and/or daunting for many people out there. I know the first time I was asked to mentor/teach high school students, I thought 1) how the heck will I fit that in 2) I’m only at a startup, should I be teaching these kids anything? Of course, I got over myself and now mentor a couple teams for Technovation Challenge (they pair women in tech with high school girls to develop an Android app from conception to a pitch to VCs). It’s only a couple hours or so a week (less for people with one team), but in the grand scheme of things that’s nothing. The more we invest in our future, the better it’ll be. TEALS is asking people to get out there, but also fitting it into their schedule (and commute) which is awesome.Also mentorship/teaching was a bit part of the discussion for the Fostering Collaboration within Entrepreneurial Ecosystems panel during Social Media Week NYC last week and I tweeted this out and hope folks see it so you can recruit, Fred. 🙂

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Try to work it in. The fact you’re at a startup offers insight to HS age that probably isn’t there.

      1. Trish Fontanilla

        Oh I do! They’re a breath of fresh air and I’m a huge believer in paying it forward. This is my second year with Technovation and because we don’t have enough female mentors, I’m mentoring a team in California and in Massachusetts (I’m in Boston). Sad and inspiring all at once, but to secure the future of women in tech we need to support the girls.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          Bless you! Didn’t know about Technovation.

    2. Ryan Frew

      I’m a Junior at Xavier University. One of the programs they offer here is called the Xecutive Mentor program in which students fill out a long questionnaire and then executives (entrepreneurs, F500, whatever) in the network look at students’ answers and then choose to mentor someone who they think they would enjoy helping. It isn’t mandatory but it is easily the most powerful tool that the college of business offers. The value of a knowledgable, willing, excited mentor(s) cannot be understated. Thanks for helping out – I’m sure those girls that you’re mentoring will give back in the future as well.

      1. fredwilson

        mentorship is so important. great program

      2. JamesHRH

        Great program. Not for everyone, but most people would benefit.

  5. William Mougayar

    The education shake-up is resulting into a big Education Mashup!Programmers teaching high schools. Universities opening online courses. VC’s funding high schools. Startups bringing university professors inside. Entrepreneurs teaching at universities.It’s a Big Mashup! I love that disruption.

  6. Richard

    Great stuff. Hopefully a few bilingual and women engineers will participate.

    1. fredwilson

      women sw engineers would be awesome. young women need role models.i don’t think we have too big of an issue with ESL though

      1. Richard

        I do a slightly different version of this using Codecademy. About once a month, Ill introduce myself to a person working in retail and tell them little about the demand for skilled programmers. i give them a simple goal, try to encourage them to resist television for 6 months and learn to code.

      2. ShanaC

        mom could do it in theory if she was a commuting into the city. That being said, I find that idea sort of terrifying – she’s really really not good at pedagogy of basic CS and didn’t understand how to cover what she was doing so I would understand it. I ended up learning elsewhere. (this doesn’t mean she is a bad programmer, just one who can’t teach it)She couldn’t really explain what she was doing. I find this across many different professionals in many different fields. Teaching someone how do to something is very different than doing it yourself

        1. panterosa,

          Shana, you need a deconstructive mind to explain things. Deconstruct into the right pieces and the reconstruct in logical progression.

    2. Paul Sanwald

      Rich, my wife and I are both software engineers and both just RSVP’d to the information session. We’re really interested in stuff like this.

      1. Richard

        Great. Curious about their curriculum. Let us know.

  7. Cam MacRae

    …a software engineer literally stops by the school on his or her way to work, teaches the class in partnership with one of the existing teachers in the school, and is out the door on the way to work before any of his or her colleagues is out of bed.Crikey! I have nothing but admiration these brave, brave souls.

  8. Tom Labus

    Those guys should also take a few kids with them to work once and awhile.

    1. Cam MacRae

      Do you guys do ‘work experience’ in schools? All our kiddies get bundled off into the workforce in (very humbly) paid placements for a couple of weeks during year 9. At one company we pretty much always had a wide-eyed kid in daddy’s borrowed tie hanging about.

      1. Tom Labus

        usually a day of chaos. Let the kid just hang out

        1. Cam MacRae

          Not really. It’s not a day, it’s one or two weeks. Since every student in the country does has to do it employers are reasonably well prepared.

    2. fredwilson


    3. ShanaC

      did take your daughter/son to work day disappear?

      1. Tom Labus

        I mean in a less formal less mandatory format. Let the kid observe.

        1. Richard Carlow

          I would go beyond that, let the kid participate.

  9. JLM

    .Education is THE thing. It can point to unknown interests, awaken passions and signpost careers.Well played!This approach is very innovative and intuitive.This approach — the melding of real world practitioners with receptive audiences at “open space” times — could also work with the chronically unemployed.Learn welding, computer networking — transformational jobs and highly employable skill sets — at dawn.If you can lay a bead straight and solid, you can work for the rest of your life in the Oil Patch. These are great jobs.This can take social safety net consumers and turn them into taxpayers. At the end of the day, unemployment is really about having an employable skill, getting a job in that field, getting a paycheck and producing tax revenue rather than consuming it.JLM.

    1. awaldstein

      NIcely said.Education in schools and education is for the unemployed are different dynamics and we need to change that.We bring education to our kids. That’s our job.It should be our job for the unemployed as well and it’s not as yet.

      1. JLM

        .Could turn out to be much cheaper than 99 weeks of unemployment which just results in chronic unemployment and no skill development.JLM.

        1. LE

          People that I laid off in the 80’s who went to unemployment would tell me stories about how they were coached to appear to be looking for jobs so they could continue to collect paychecks from the state.But if you think about it for a second there are only a fixed number of jobs in an economy and if the work isn’t there I’m not so sure that the behavior on the part of the state workers who did the coaching was as bad as it looks or perhaps wasn’t even condoned. You are trying to restrict supply (labor) until the economy gets better and can absorb workers. Otherwise you just create frustration (as we see now) when 1000 people show up for 10 jobs (or whatever happens that you see on the news). Additionally, in theory at least, If you hold some of that labor back wages should increase and the people getting jobs will be more highly paid.You’ve seen this happen with real estate, right? You don’t want to dump to many properties on the market at the same time or prices get depressed. (I’m going through a situation like that right now actually)

          1. JLM

            .When the Want Ads are blank, then we can worry.There are still jobs out there.A guy could go to Odessa, TX and get work in about 45 seconds. A damn good high paying job.JLM.

          2. LE

            ” A damn good high paying job.”Indeed, what jobs do you speak of specifically?http://www.indeed.com/l-Ode…(If I’m reading this correctly the majority of jobs are below approx 50k.

          3. JLM

            .Cost of living in Odessa is amongst the lowest in the country.In the Oil Patch, a tool pusher (guy on a rig) can literally work as many hours OT as he desires.If you can weld, the sky is the limit — $100,000 + with just minimal OT.A damn good welder can weld anything but:The crack of dawn,A broken heart, andTissue paper.JLM.

          4. LE

            “If you can weld”I think you just made my point though. (Hey remember Jennifer Beals in Flashdance?)In any case people have geographic ties to particular regions so you need labor that is both able to relocate (both husband/wife) as well as not need their support system (grandma who watches the children) and are willing to give up their church/community in order to go to where the labor is needed. And most importantly they have to have the skills to do the job and they have to be able to go interview for the job. I’ve done this the one time I tried to get a job after I sold my business. I had the money to take a chance and fly to SV to a trade show on a lark and was able to land a job by cold calling and lobbing an insult at a VP of sales. So I had the street smarts to pull it off. But I’m not sure that with only one of those things (skill or money) I would be able to do that. Oh yeah, I was also able to work for a several months in the home city of the company (Sunnyvale) and then work out in the field from my house and my wife at the time was able to take care of our kids just fine because she had a small business and could work around child care. And my parents lived in the same neighborhood and were able to babysit. And I had money so I didn’t really need to work desperately and that led to me being able to take the unusual approach that I did to get the job (the insult).See how many things had to come together to make all of that happen?

          5. Carl Rahn Griffith

            When can I start?

          6. JLM

            .Soon as you pass your welding test, Carl.Come to think of it, the BRC can use a bit of welding, don’t ya know?JLM.

          7. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Lol. Well, I used to be OK on oxyacetylene as a teenage kid (my dad was a truck mechanic and I used to have access to all his kit at his workshop) but I might be a bit rusty, now – and I never had access to these fancy mig welders, etc – after my time! 😉

          8. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          9. Richard

            moving started with the birth of man 50,000 years ago, only recently have we become immobile!

          10. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          11. Richard

            why did man go to siberia for 500 years? no jobs there.

          12. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            THIS SMART. ME UPVOTE.

      2. ShanaC

        I don’t fully understood when it became the US government (aka us’s Job) to reeducate the unemployed. It used to be for lower skilled jobs,and even some higher skilled ones, the place where you worked did most of your training.What happend?

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          @JLM:disqus is right. As far as the best quote from Bill Clinton IMO was his answer to the gal regarding he wouldn’t (if elected) be able to give her the same job back. To accelerate what needs to happen will require blood, sweat and tears from all of us and the more who participate will eventually lead to better result.

        2. awaldstein

          Don’t know but I like the direction.

        3. LE

          ” it became the US government (aka us’s Job)”You do what you have to do to avoid a bigger problem. Doesn’t matter who’s responsibility it is. If the light bulb is out in your apartment and it’s the landlord’s job to replace are you going to wait and have no light or are you going to put the bulb in yourself?

        4. JLM

          .America was turned over to some socialists who are vacuuming and redistributing the wealth of the job creators and creating a permanent dependency class.All time high unemployment, food stamps, disability, housing subsidy…………….a Nation of takers. All free because the lower 50% not only does not pay any taxes, they get a check. From you, darling. And me.I would rather give them jobs.We are paying for them to do nothing — 99 weeks worth.Why not take that same money and turn them back into productive members of society.Because as you note, the government is not going to do it. They cannot because they have no clue as to how to do it.In the last 4 years, that is painfully obvious. U-3 rising again. U-7 a disaster. 8.5MM Americans REMOVED from the labor force.JLM.

        5. Anne Libby

          Actually, almost everyone in my Dad’s generation was educated by the US government. It was called military service, and generations of managers and leaders received this “management training.” Beyond the service itself, many of the men who trained me to manage had attended college on the GI Bill.



        1. awaldstein

          Of course, but it’s a lot easier to understand a problem in abstract then sweat out a solution.Nothing is perfect and everything in practice is messy.

        2. Richard

          but people think the best way to educate employed is before then get that way

    2. fredwilson


    3. Richard

      Great engineering jobs out there in petroleum engineering too

    4. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Very true, JLM. Albert’s blog has had some good discussions regarding this emotive topic. In the UK, like many economies, the problem is being ‘swept under the carpet’ … not good enough; we have a time-bomb ticking away unless we are all more proactive.

  10. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Great idea and initiative. I like how software developers are taking a leading role in these matters.



      1. Richard

        yes, see mario marino

  11. ShanaC

    Decent idea if they give them classes on how to teach first – bad teachers can make the subject more confusing 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      two things on this1) they co-teach with an experienced and successful teacher from that very school2) they participate in a summer training program

  12. Richard

    As for MBA mondays:How about Case Study Monday where you write or recruit someone to write a case study (hbs style) ? Maybe a (prior) dead pool avc investment?

    1. awaldstein

      Post mortems on great ideas that couldn’t find a market or a model are rare and really useful. Good idea.

  13. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Love it. Coding is the key the kingdom, I always say.I’ll share this around.



      1. Richard

        hammer and nails without a great blueprint results in a house that is unsustainable.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Richard

            iteration ok, but sometimes you only have $ for one box of nails

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen


  14. Paul Sanwald

    awesome awesome awesome, I just RSVP’d. I used to volunteer at MOUSE and really enjoy doing things like this. Thanks for posting about this, and also about fintech, we’re presenting on friday :).

    1. fredwilson

      good luck on friday!

    2. panterosa,

      My friend Sarah started MOUSE. I am always happy to hear when people are involved in it or similar programs.

  15. ope_b

    Great idea. Would love to see it expanded beyond CS too. Perhaps a good answer to “When will I ever need to use this stuff?” question is to have professionals co-teaching courses to help students see the connection to the real world. There was a charter school a while back (can’t remember the name) that had professions coming in to teach computer science, entrepreneurship, journalism, all sorts of stuff. Love the potential to get broader community invested in local schools.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      “connection to the real world””potential to get broader community invested”Yes!

  16. Charlie Crystle

    1) great initiative–checking into it for SDL2) for MBA Mondays–how about “What they don’t teach you in business school” ?

    1. awaldstein

      #2–you mean like marketing?

      1. panterosa,

        I just had two amazing 4 hour classes on marketing from CBS for the IE@Columbia program. Very interesting. Way more exciting, and broadly useful, than the Term Sheet class!

      2. Donna Brewington White


    2. Ryan Frew

      2) I thought that was the topic the other 6 days of the week.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      It would be interesting to hear from people what they realized in retrospect they needed to learn that they didn’t learn.

  17. Dan

    Rsvp’ed. As a startup founder and sometimes-coder, hope that my “less than academic” approach works for this. Earned my CS degree over a decade ago, but most of the skills used otj were either self-taught or learned after school. Curious to checkout the information meeting and see what they’re looking for.

    1. fredwilson

      please come


      DO IT.

  18. LE

    “The way this works is a software engineer literally stops by the school on his or her way to work, teaches the class in partnership with one of the existing teachers in the school, and is out the door on the way to work before any of his or her colleagues is out of bed.”This is a great idea. I would give the software engineers some kind of lucite momento [1] as a thank you for their involvement engraved with their name etc. That way they can put that in their office/cubicle, others will see it, and possibly volunteer as well.[1] Can be had for maybe $20 to $30 per participant. Essentially it’s a thank you and advertising all rolled into one.

  19. Dan Malven

    Instead of continuing MBA Mondays, why don’t you take a queue from this post and do Computer Science Mondays….do some basic CS concepts for this audience…the more people who understand CS the better we all are.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        And a great blog it is, too – it deserves more readers/interaction.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  20. Alec Perkins

    (This program sounds awesome, and I would love to participate.)Those graphs on the TEALS website, while dramatic, say a lot more about the desire to satisfy college degree requirements and prerequisites than interest in computer science. The only people I know who took the CS AP (myself included) did so because they were interested in the subject and were planning on pursuing a related degree. Most of the other exams seemed to be taken by people who wanted to get that general requirement out of the way, so they could take “more interesting” courses related to their intended major. Not a bad thing, but I think we should be more careful about measuring interest in the field. Plus there are those who would be taking the exam but end up going straight into the industry, which is possible in tech in a way unlike most others. Actual degree seekers/job seekers would be a better measure.That of course gets into the issue of who needs to learn computer literacy, since it’s valuable well beyond what’s considered the “tech” industry. Maybe colleges should consider the value in having comp sci as a basic requirement?

  21. mrtvb

    Hey. Great idea, but why limited to software engineers? What about students in their junior, senior years? They can be very helpful, actually, even more helpful in some cases because of their roles.

  22. TamiMForman

    Fred — As the mom of an NYC kindergartener I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate the work you are doing to make the schools in this city better. I’ve seen enough of the DOE to know that it can’t be pretty work, but man is it having an impact. Well done!

  23. Dakky

    I am currently a student that is part of the first remotely piloted TEALS program in Lee county KY and the class has changed my life it is simply amazing

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen


    2. Donna Brewington White

      Very cool to hear this, Dakky.

    3. fredwilson

      thanks for stopping by and letting us know Dakky.

    4. marthakelly

      I’m very happy to hear that. I’m in TN (grew up in AL), and I know first hand how CS education in the south is lacking. I’m so excited for you!



    1. fredwilson

      if all houses are going to be set on fire, set yours on fire first



  25. marthakelly

    This is such a great idea!

  26. Tim Olsen

    Is the Berkeley curriculum based on SICP?

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t know. I can find out



  28. Richard

    business school is just a bucket, it can be filled with anything.