UAteach Graduates First Teacher-Candidates in Computer Science

Jul 17, 2018 | Curriculum and Instruction

The UAteach program at the University of Arkansas graduated its first two future computer science teachers in May. Earlier this month, Chris Malone and Nate Vogel were recognized during the Arkansas Computer Science Educators Conference at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.

The demand for computer science teachers in the state increased following Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s computer science initiative in 2015 requiring every high school in Arkansas to offer a computer science course.

“I am delighted that Arkansas colleges and universities are recognizing the importance of computer science education in Arkansas and the critical role of preparing teachers in this field,” Hutchinson said in an announcement about the conference recognition for Malone, Vogel, Drake Maltos, who plans to graduate from the program in December, and a fourth graduate from Arkansas Tech University. “Programs such as UAteach are paving the way for STEM education in Arkansas, and I look forward to continued success.”

Malone, of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and Vogel, of Bentonville, are ready.

The UAteach program is a minor in secondary education that prepares STEM majors for the option of teaching biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, or computer science, said Kim McComas, a clinical assistant professor in the program. Having passed their licensure exams, the first two graduates will be licensed to teach computer science in grades 4-12.

“Prior to 2016, teacher-candidates interested in teaching computer science had to choose a different licensure area for their initial teaching license, then apply for an endorsement in computer science,” McComas said.

Malone earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and physics with minors in mathematics and UAteach. Computer science is a major offered in the College of Engineering, and physics and math are offered in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences while UAteach is a partnership between the Fulbright College and the College of Education and Health Professions.

“From a young age, I was interested in computers and electronics,” Malone said. “I (modified) video games, repaired and built computers and computer networks, and designed simple electronics, collaborated in free and open source software projects, and eventually, in college, decided to major in (computer science).”

Malone said the fun of that first UAteach course prompted the decision to take the next one.

“That was the story of my first five classes in that program,” Malone said. “It wasn’t until I was roughly three-quarters of the way done with the program did I seriously think of teaching as a career.”

In the spring, Malone did a teaching internship at Fayetteville High School with Emery Faulkner as mentor.

“I think having fun with what I’m doing has definitely been the primary motivation to teach,” Malone said. “Regardless of any student’s future goals or career path, I believe knowing computer science empowers students by giving them the skill set and confidence to solve problems in their lives and change the world.”

Vogel’s bachelor’s degree is in computer science with a UAteach minor.

“Computer science is in everything we do!” Vogel said. “I wanted to be a part of something that everyone will use and potentially something that would change the world.”

He considers teaching a privilege and believes that it gives individuals the ability to change other people’s lives and mold the future. He secured a job teaching Advanced Placement computer science principles at Bentonville West High School.

“I love teaching computer science because it allows me to teach students that they are capable of anything, Vogel said. “The vast majority of the time when a student walks into my class, they come in with the mindset of this is too hard, I cannot do it. By the end of the semester, and sometimes by the end of the class, I am able to show the students that they are more than capable of coding or learning this ‘hard’ subject.”

Vogel’s teaching internship was at Springdale High School last semester with Josefina Perez. Prior to that, he had computer science practicum experiences with Marie Lothridge at Rogers New Technology High School and Faulkner at Fayetteville High School.

Drake Maltos of Montrose, Arkansas, is on track to graduate in December with a major in computer science and a minor in UAteach. His interest grew from his passion for a hobby — video games.

“Eventually, I started to think to myself, ‘I can do better than these developers,’ ” Maltos said. “Add that to the fact that I enjoyed being around computers already and the major came naturally to me.”

Some amazing faculty members at Lakeside High School, from which he graduated, got Maltos thinking about teaching as a profession.

“I vividly recall several influences on my life who have motivated me to impact others the way that they have impacted myself,” he said. “I wish to help lead the way towards creating a bright future for our society through fostering intelligent, creative minds. I see programming as something that is almost limitless in terms of possibilities, and I want to mold the creativity of young minds towards being competent problem-solvers by way of computer science.”

Maltos has also had Faulkner and Lothridge as practicum mentors and will do his teaching internship this fall.