Gov. Hutchinson to tour state with new ‘coding Arkansas’ future’ program

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 130 views 

With Gov. Asa Hutchinson in tow, the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts has announced that it will serve as a leading provider of computer science education and educator training in the state through its “Coding Arkansas’ Future” program.

School officials told Talk Business & Politics that Coding Arkansas’ Future will provide expanded computer science education courses for schools across Arkansas through ASMSA’s digital learning program. ASMSA will also provide training, support and mentoring to teachers across the state in computer science.

Bob Gregory, ASMSA’s dean of academic affairs, announced the new program during the school’s annual Community of Learning Luncheon, which featured Gov. Asa Hutchinson as the guest speaker at the Arlington Hotel on Friday.

“Students will be the beneficiaries of Coding Arkansas’ Future, but we believe the real difference is providing support to the teachers who are the risk-takers, innovators and intellectual entrepreneurs who will help Governor Hutchinson achieve this vision,” Gregory said.

On Tuesday, Hutchinson rolled out details of a “computer coding” tour he plans to use to highlight the initiative at schools around Arkansas. The full schedule is at the bottom of this story.

Hutchinson said he wants to put 6,000 computer coders each year into the Arkansas economy, preparing them better for study at one of the state’s four-year colleges or universities. According to ASMSA officials, the overarching goal of Coding Arkansas’ Future is to guide 10 districts through the first cycle of teaching the state’s new Essentials of Computer Programming course while preparing them to move ahead independently in subsequent years. A new cohort of teachers will begin the process the following year.

“We quickly realized that the state needed an option somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrum,” Gregory said. “For ASMSA, supporting teachers who want nothing less than to engage, challenge and inspire students is the heart of everything we do. Why limit that to just our campus?

Faculty in the program will have monthly planning, strategy and reflection sessions using digital conferencing tools. ASMSA will offer a one-week, residential professional development program in late July for faculty from schools participating in the program. Housing in ASMSA’s Student Center and meals will be provided at no cost to participating districts.

Through collaboration with the Arkansas Computer Science Teachers Association, the goal is to build a professional development network for these pioneering teachers, Gregory said. Among the schools that have already agreed to participate in the program are Hot Springs High School, Rivercrest High School, East End High School, Cossatot River High School and Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter.

In addition to the faculty development program, school districts may also choose to participate in ASMSA’s digital learning program which will offer Essentials of Computer Programming courses taught solely by ASMSA faculty members. The course is included in the STEM Pathways program, which offers several STEM science and math courses at no cost to Arkansas school districts.

To learn more about ASMSA’s digital learning opportunities, click here.

Gov. Hutchinson Computer Coding High School Tour

Wednesday, May 6
Rogers High School
9:00 AM
2300 S Dixieland Rd.
Rogers, AR

Springdale High School
10:15 AM
101 South Pleasant St.
Springdale, AR

Fort Smith Northside High School
1:30 PM
2301 North B St.
Fort Smith, AR

Friday, May 8
Farmington High School
1:30 PM
278 W. Main St.
Farmington, AR

Monday, May 11
Conway High School
9:00 AM
2300 Prince St.
Conway, AR

Mayflower High School
10:15 AM
10 Lesley King Dr.
Mayflower, AR

Arkadelphia High School
2:30 PM
401 High School Rd.
Arkadelphia, AR

Tuesday, May 12
Jonesboro High School
9:30 AM
301 Hurricane Dr.
Jonesboro, AR

Paragould High School
11:00 PM
1701 W Court St.
Paragould, AR

Friday, May 22
Star City High School
206 Cleveland St.
Star City, AR