CHARLOTTE – Michelle Pierce, a middle school computer science teacher at Mallard Creek STEM Academy, has been selected among thousands of eligible teachers as a 2021 Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipient. Pierce will receive a prize package valued at more than $30,000, which includes $25,000 to expand computer science at her school and $5,000 teacher cash award.
Mallard Creek STEM Academy plans to use the prize to purchase more technology to enhance its STEM, robotics and computer science programs as well as to support the development of a competitive robotics teams to allow students the opportunity to experience innovative robotic designs.
Pierce learned of the honor when her colleagues surprised them with an Amazon box filled with Amazon Future Engineer swag.
“I was shocked but very excited, especially because this was such a tough school year,” she said. “This award will provide us with additional resources to reach more students and get more students, specifically girls and students of color, excited about computer science.”
Pierce is a computer science teacher who designs curriculum to be more inclusive to students of all ability levels. It is her personal mission to expose students to the contributions of African Americans and women in the field of STEM and computer science. She is a member of the Computer Science Teacher Association where she uses her voice to advocate for underrepresented populations.
“It has been an especially difficult year for teachers so we are excited to recognize their hard work and commitment to their students’ success,” said Victor Reinoso, Global Director, Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon in the Community. “The Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipients work diligently to help students in underserved and underrepresented communities build life-changing skills to propel their futures in computer science. We celebrate their tireless efforts to increase access to technology and computer literacy in their classrooms and beyond.”
Pierce is one of ten teachers across the country who received the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award. Recipients were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including their commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within computer science education, a recommendation from a school administrator and compelling, personal anecdotes about their school and students. Scholarship America reviewed applicants and selected the award recipients.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the market for computer science professionals will grow 11% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations and, as of May 2020, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $91,250, which is more than twice the median annual wage for all occupations. Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math field, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a small percentage from underrepresented communities.