Computer science education

Taking Business to School: Vancouver Public Schools & TechSmart

Techniques celebrates the conclusion of ACTE’s and Xello’s work on Taking Business to School. The final paper in this series of publication briefs features an innovative collaboration between Washington state’s Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) and TechSmart, a company dedicated to the advancement of computer science education.

Taking Business to School: VPS & TechSmart


Each of the five Taking Business to School publication briefs, written by workforce policy consultant Meghan Wills, encourages career and technical educators to create strong business and community partnerships. VPS and TechSmart work together to help secondary students gain the knowledge and experience necessary for high-demand technology careers. Further, their partnership makes it possible for high school graduates to enter the workforce right away!

“Being a software developer doesn’t necessarily require a college degree,” explained Chelsea Byers, TechSmart’s director of teacher success. “TechSmart focuses on creating alternative pathways into the tech industry.”

Alongside high-quality coding and computer science curriculum, VPS students may gain access to a TechSmart internship program. “Interns [help provide] operational and communication support for the TechSmart coding training and curriculum,” wrote Wills. “Interns are fully incorporated into their team and the company overall. They work on tasks that are central to the company’s operations. And full-time staff work in collaboration with the interns as team members.”

Opportunities like these validate and encourage diverse students’ interests in computer science career pathways. And there are plenty of benefits to go around. For the students and for employers like TechSmart, developing foundational skills for success in their future employees.

Supporting students and educators

Proudly, VPS has sent six student interns to serve the Teacher Support team at TechSmart. But what this writer may find most impressive is the commitment in Vancouver, Washington, to strategic business and community partnership development. Before internship experiences begin, students engage in comprehensive workforce readiness training. Meanwhile, industry partners discuss and engage in an official agreement with the district. This work outlines all expectations and ensures that mutually beneficial goals are met.

Vancouver Public Schools provides additional support to its partners, like TechSmart, to advocate for successful internship experiences. In turn, TechSmart offers robust professional development experiences for educators like those at VPS. Because these business and community partners know that when students and educators succeed, the workforce will thrive.

Read Taking Business to School: Vancouver Public Schools and TechSmart to learn more about strategic business and community partnership development.