Code To The Future VP Visits Anne Sullivan Elementary


Three elementary schools in Sioux Falls are in their first few months as computer science immersion programs. Led by the national organization Code To The Future, students at Anne Sullivan, Lowell and Hayward are spending 30 minutes a day learning the language of technology. 

This diverse group of students at Anne Sullivan Elementary has big dreams. 

Matt Holsen: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Khloe Lesesne: I want to be a doctor. I like when you get to help people.

Second grader Khloe Lesesne enjoys math and other subjects, but she really likes getting on her Chromebook. 

Holsen: Is that your favorite part of the day?

Lesesne: Yeah. It’s because we get to go back on our Chromebooks and do our coding. 

That’s music to Jacob Makuvire’s ears. The Vice President of Code To The Future is in Sioux Falls to check in on how the school is weaving computer projects into every day lessons. He likes what he sees. 

“The level of thinking and what they’re putting into their programs and the games that they’re building, the level of complexity, is really advanced at this age,” Makuvire said. 

District officials selected Anne Sullivan for the immersion program because of its diversity. According to the school’s 2016-17 data profile, 30-percent of the school is white, 27-percent is black, and Asian and hispanic students account for 15-percent each. 68-percent qualify for free-and-reduced meals. 

“I mean the representation within this school, the refugee status, the social demographics is just impressive. That’s why we’re here,” Makuvire said. 

Computer science immersion is about giving these kids a unique skill, something they can get excited about. 

“For us it’s very simple. For us it’s social justice. It’s providing an opportunity for all students at these types of resources. Regardless of their background, their socio-economic status, the color of their skin or their gender, they should all have an opportunity at these types of resources. Really to prepare them for a world, we don’t even know what it holds in the future,” Makuvire said. 

While K-5 students are gaining useful coding knowledge, they’re also changing the way they work through issues. 

“But it’s about the logic, the way of thinking. The idea of being able to problem solve and have high-order thinking skills that are all transferrable skills regardless of what industry they go into beyond just coding itself,” Makuvire said. 

In the meantime, Lesesne will just focus on what she enjoys. 

“I like about them that you actually get to play games,” Lesesne said. 

Computer science immersion students have completed their first cycle of coding. Each school has a showcase when they complete a project. Hayward’s first showcase is scheduled for November 17.

The immersion program is a five-year contract with Code To The Future at a cost of more than a million dollars paid by federal Title funds.

Coming up this Sunday in EYE on KELOLAND, we show you what Superintendent Brian Maher thinks about the program so far and why it’s attracting looks from school districts in surrounding cities. 

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