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Empowering PA Students

The goal is to create a national model that provides workshops, conferences and in-service training for counselors to learn about computer science.

Creating a national model that provides workshops, conferences and in-service training for counselors to learn about computer science is the goal behind a $407,447.00 grant given to Millersville University. The grant will provide the counselors with data, resources and messaging to help them recruit students into computer science and broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in computing.

Millersville’s Dr. Nazli Hardy, the lead applicant on the grant, says the funds will go toward several activities, including developing a website to help educators connect students to computer science, full-day training programs and mini-grants for school counselors.

Hardy says the job market for computer science majors is fantastic, “Computing is pervasive across all industries. Computational thinking allows students to make sound, logical decisions, and fundamental knowledge of coding is an application of computational thinking. So this program will equip counselors to arm teachers and students with important marketable skills.”

The grant is from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to improve access to science, technology, engineering, math and computer science education. The PAsmartAdvancing Grants will help a total of 42 institutions across the state.

“Our grant will expand training for school counselors to demystify technology for students and families, identify and remove barriers for students in the school and community towards computing, support student persistence in the technical field, and analyze the effectiveness of their practice,” says Hardy.

The training will allow counselors to use newly developed tools to analyze labor and post-secondary pathway changes and promote student engagement. Cybersecurity is one of the most significant career demands in Pennsylvania and the nation. The grant will encourage students to pursue a career in computing.

“School counselors, through role and training, are uniquely positioned to align programs and coordinate services between education and the workforce,” says Hardy. “Our grant will provide training and professional development to school counselors so they can be an advocate for computer science. Robust training and support can build school counselor champions for computer science.”

Hardy is also the director of the Summer Institute for Coding Confidence for Educators, and since she arrived at Millersville in 2004, she has been forming connections with local high schools. This grant is a culmination of her long-standing partnership with Dana Wile from Penn Manor School District and Steve Sharp from Hempfield School district. They are partners in the grant and longtime leaders in the “CS for All” initiative at the state and national levels.

“My partnership with Dana and Steve, who are proven leaders in their field, is what elevates the quality and the content of the grant. I value them as colleagues and friends and look forward to our continued work together.”

The PAsmart grant will allow Hardy and her team to develop workshops for counselors and expand and enhance programs for women to support the pursuit and persistence in computing careers through the Aspirations in Computing Program.

“Millersville University students will be involved by helping develop coding and security modules,” says Hardy. “We’ll have a G.A. to help coordinate the program, and we have new faculty members interested in being involved in the enterprise.”

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