Pendergast launches Python coding program for students | Online Features | –


Pendergast Elementary School District is equipping middle school students at Villa de Paz Elementary School with the training and tools to reach success in today’s technology-based society by expanding its partnership with West-MEC.

With more than 10,000 computing jobs available in Arizona, the Pendergast district has introduced a new computer sciences initiative at Villa de Paz Elementary School to provide students the skills to fill those jobs.

“One of the things that we saw as a school is really being able to provide opportunity and access to all our students,” said Abraham Gonzalez, Villa de Paz Elementary School principal.

“The Villa de Paz Computer Science Academy encourages and supports creative expression and problem solving. It empowers students to be creators, not just consumers of technology. The academy challenges and inspires students to explore their creativity and experience learning in unimaginable ways.” 

This partnership expansion allows the Pendergast district to provide advanced computer sciences coursework to middle school students to enhance the Villa De Paz computer science program and create further opportunities for students.

In partnership with TechSmart, Villa de Paz Elementary School teachers in grades sixth through eighth will be trained in the Python coding curriculum and will be equipped to teach Python to all of their students.

Python is a computer coding program that allows students to work quickly and integrate systems more effectively. Computer coding programs are used to give computers and machines a set of instructions on what actions to perform. 

These programs allow individuals in the technology industry to create computer softwares, operating systems and mobile applications. 

Don Neville, seventh and eighth grade computer science teacher at Villa de Paz, has witnessed the program in action, as his students are learning various STEM skills that he said will better prepare them for high school and beyond, in college and in their future careers. 

“I am honored and privileged to be one of the Villa de Paz Computer Science Academy educators,” Neville said. “Through my years as a computer science teacher at Villa de Paz Elementary School, I have witnessed the great impact that the program has had in our students’ lives. I am excited to help roll out this new initiative and continue impacting our students in a positive way,” Neville said. 

“I truly believe that many outstanding technology leaders will come out of the Villa de Paz Computer Science Academy and will make a difference in the world. I am proud to say that the Villa de Paz Computer Science Academy provides exceptional educational experiences for our students to have the knowledge, skills and opportunities that prepare them for the future.”

Computer science is essential, but unfortunately Gonzalez said not all students have the option or opportunity to participate in a computer science program, specifically students in underserved groups and communities.

“With our school being 90% people of color, it’s important that we provide opportunities and access to computer science so students know that it’s a choice for them in high school and as a career,” he said. “So all these things that are being taught to our students, it’s going to really prepare them for the 21st century.”

The Python coding curriculum will allow students to engage in the design thinking process and apply coding to solve community challenges, yet another accomplishment Dr. Jennifer Cruz, Pendergast Elementary School District superintendent, is proud yet not surprised her students have been able to conquer. 

“Villa de Paz’s Computer Science Academy is changing the way our students learn. Our students are learning how to strategically problem solve and come up with innovative solutions to real-life problems through technology. The opportunities that our students will have by learning Python coding are endless. This initiative will equip students to become successful leaders of tomorrow and will help them achieve and sustain success,” she said. 

The three-year partnership will give students the opportunity to learn beginner through intermediate-level Python coding, as well as the opportunity to earn high school accreditation in computer science. 

“This will set them up for high school and college. When they walk into those other classes, they will feel more confident in their ability. If they are given a problem or a project, no matter what it is, they will feel more confident in their ability to deal with it. So, it is more the computational thinking, which I think was the big push in computer science. It is really cross-curricular,” Neville said.  


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