New public school to prepare students for high-paying tech jobs

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(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Valley is one of the fastest growing areas of the country for coding, programming and STEM jobs. But when it comes to preparedness for those jobs, Arizona is one of the worst. Now a new public school in Phoenix is planning to graduate students who are ready to take some of the highest-paying, most in-demand jobs.

The Phoenix Coding Academy will open in August 2016. The small, specialty school will open with a freshmen class of approximately 100 students, who will focus on technology and computer coding. Applications are already being submitted at such a fast pace, school administrators worry they will not be able to keep up with the demand.

"There are a lot of tech companies really booming here. They’re growing, they’re moving here, establishing offices, but there aren’t enough people here to fill the jobs they have," Principal Seth Beute said. "There’s the opportunity to provide students with the skill sets they need ... to immediately be eligible to apply for jobs in the tech community."

And unlike the technology programs at other schools, the Coding Academy will be hyperfocused.

"Everything they study - English, math, science, social studies, health - everything will be viewed through a technological lens and a programming lens," said Dr. Chad Gestson, interim superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District,

"It’ll be project-based learning or inquiry-based learning, so students will be learning concepts through doing things," Beute explained.

The school will have state-of-the-art labs with 3-D printers, circuit boards, and a 1-to-1 laptop-to-student ratio. Leaders from some of the top technology companies in the country are helping to design the curriculum and will mentor the students.

"We absolutely think that the Phoenix Coding Academy can go toe to toe with any public, private or district school in the state. We will produce the best computer programmers and students around," Gestson said.

The school, which is right along the Light Rail in downtown Phoenix, is in the heart of a community that is largely minority and economically challenged.  Gestson said this school will open doors for the students who live there.

"Our hope is to transform lives of these kids, that when they come to this place, it's a learning institution, but it's also a place that transforms their education, transforms their thinking and we hope transforms their economic situation," Gestson said.

Applications can be submitted until Jan. 29. Students will be selected based on applications and interviews.

[ONLINE: Click here to download the Phoenix Coding Academy application (PDF file)]

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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