How One Non-Profit Commits to the Ultimate Goal of Computer Science Education
Carlos Vazquez, CEO of Miami EdTech, Shares His Personal and Company Journey of #CSforALL
My Education + Teaching = Miami EdTech
Two experiences shaped my desire to launch Miami EdTech. First, my experience as a student in the NYC Public School system and experiencing firsthand the impact of teachers on STEM pathways specifically for students from low-income environments where the only source of access was school. My third grade teacher in particular sparked my interest in STEM and supported my curiosity in technology despite not being familiar herself. I went on to study computer science in college at Fordham University but never quite felt that I belonged in that environment. I took a job in sales after college because it was the first opportunity that came up (couldn’t afford to search around). I learned an MS in Web Strategy and Design while working full-time and dabbled in entrepreneurship by launching a music business.
I then switched careers and became a teacher through the NYC Teaching Fellows program. I became a 5th grade bilingual teacher at a public school blocks away from where I earned my undergraduate degree. I found my true calling in education and witnessed firsthand the challenges teachers had with implementing new technology in the classroom given the limited bandwidth and support. For the record, I always wanted to become a teacher but felt the burden of providing for my family as the oldest son in a single parent household so resisted the temptation to follow that path. While teaching, I can’t tell you how many times I saw technology go unused because teachers weren’t fully supported with adequate training. Miami EdTech was born from those experiences in that I wanted to cultivate a community of people passionate about solving problems in education and specifically support teachers through programming and professional development in the areas of computer science and entrepreneurship.
Joining the National Stage
In 2019, CSforALL launched a new initiative, EcoSystemsforCS, with support from Schmidt Futures to provide grants to 10 communities across the United States to promote community-led systems change in CS education. Miami EdTech was selected, along with nine others, to participate in the inaugural EcoSystemsforCS Cohort. This opportunity has been one of the best professional experiences of my life and for Miami EdTech. Meeting passionate educators and ambassadors from all over the country exponentially inspired me and has helped me view the work with a larger perspective.
Making a CS Commitment
Last year in Salt Lake City, CSforALL announced new commitments from schools, cities, nonprofits, and companies to expand Computer Science Education at their national Summit. With Miami being my home and my commitment, Miami EdTech made a CS commitment to provide professional development to 100 teachers, which will support integration of computational thinking and computer science principles across subject areas during 2019–2020. Our focus on teachers is intended to create a scalable model for addressing the fields of software, computing, and computer science that are plagued by stark underrepresentation of gender, race, ethnicity, geography, and family income.
I would highly recommend others to make a CSforALL Commitment this year and consider what can be done to achieve the ultimate goal of computer science for all US students.
About the Author: Carlos Vazquez is President and CEO of Miami EdTech, a non-profit that provides professional development to teachers and helps them integrate Computer Science, Computational Thinking, and Entrepreneurism into Core Content areas like Math and Science. Carlos graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Fordham University and holds an M.S. in Web Strategy & Design and an M.S. in Education. He has taught from the elementary to the college level for over 15 years in New York City, San Francisco, and Miami. Passionate about Workforce Education, Carlos co-founded a virtual training platform that uses brain science and social learning in an innovative way that allows students to take control of their learning and get feedback from their peers and mentors in a multitude of ways.
Committed to empowering educators and helping them ignite a passion in STEM for their students, Carlos has made it his mission to combine elements of positive psychology and social justice to address the striking inequities in access and training in education especially for people of color.
Carlos is also the Chapter President for the Computer Science Teachers Association in Miami and serves on the advisory board for Miami’s Next Leaders, Inc.