Governor Evers visits HSSD


Monday Dec. 6th, Tony Evers visits the district office to present CESA 7 with a $150,000 computer science grant. Forest Glen Students presented computer science based projects to the governor. Photo by Allie Waino

Monday, Dec. 6 Governor Tony Evers arrived at the district office to present, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a computer science grant for CESA 7 which provides $150,000 for further training of teachers in computer science skills. 

“We do a pilot program here [at CESA 7], learn from it, and [decide] what makes sense to then scale it more broadly,” CESA 7 Microsoft correspondent Michelle Schuler said.

Missy Hughes, the WEDC Secretary, said that it’s important to train teachers about computer science so that they can then go on to teach fellow teachers. 

 “It’s really almost like you’re throwing a pebble into a pond and then you can start to see the ripple effects throughout the state,” Hughes said. 

Hopes for the grant are long term, with the ever growing job market and need for computer science majors. 

“This grant is going to focus on teacher training first, but the teacher training itself will hopefully reap some benefits long term in our region,” Bay Port computer science teacher Chad Behnke said. “The availability of jobs right now is incredible for anybody with IT skills, so anybody that’s trying to pursue a path in computer science or IT, there are jobs waiting.”

The grant has come as a result of cooperation between multiple agencies. 

“Michelle and Techspark (a Microsoft civic program designed to promote digital skills) and Microsoft have been working relentlessly to start this and get this going,” said Hughes. “We’re (CESA 7) just here to help provide resources to make it happen, but it’s that public-private partnership that’s really critical to make these things happen.”

Junior Jovita D’souza has gained her computer science experience exclusively at the high school level. The grant has goals to expand computer science education past this. 

“I’m actually an IT youth apprentice with HSSD school district, so over the summer I did a lot of IT help around the schools,” Jovita said. 

Behnke reached out to Jovita after she began taking computer science classes with him her sophomore year, displaying a talent for the subject.  

“I’m really excited to see how it affects the younger kids, especially because I think it’s really awesome to see these little kids learning, programming, and coding,” Jovita said. 

Jovita was a speaker at the press conference along with Governor Evers, Hughes, Behnke, and CESA administrator Jeff Dickert. 

Following their speeches, Forest Glen students from kindergarten through fourth grade were able to present the computer science skills they’ve learned through HSSD’s already established program.

“Howard-Suamico has really been a leader in the computer science talent ecosystem,” Hughes said. “They’ve adopted everything from how do we get all students into technology – not just our high school students – and then what does that mean for our workforce, so they’ve really been a model school district for CESA 7.” 

Taking actions such as these help to develop what Behnke describes as the “IT pipeline” and ensures students have necessary skills to fill computer science jobs. 

“A mandatory thing that we do here in Wisconsin is to make sure that people are prepared for the digital world,” Evers said. “Eventually they will be entering the workforce and the companies they work for will have expectations for understanding computer science.”

Evers described careers where these skills are becoming more necessary and integral to Wisconsin industry.. 

Evers said, “At the end of the day, there isn’t a company that hires people in the state of Wisconsin that doesn’t in some fashion use technology to further their business.”