SEATTLE—Terry Laesser, a teacher at Melvindale High School, is one of just 10 national members of the Amazon Future Engineer Teachers of the Year.
Each year, Amazon recognizes 10 teachers for their work to inspire students from historically underrepresented communities to pursue careers in computer science and robotics.
“It has been an especially difficult year for teachers, so we are excited to recognize their hard work and commitment to their students’ successes,” said Victor Reinoso, global director of the program for Amazon. “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.”
Laesser teaches physical science and advanced placement computer science at Melvindale. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Findlay and her teaching certificate from the University of Michigan, where she later earned two master’s degrees—one in education, and another in environmental science. She also coaches Melvindale’s FIRST Robotics team, Retro5ive.
Recipients were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within computer science education, a recommendation from a school administrator, and compelling, personal anecdotes about their schools and students. Scholarship America reviewed the applications and selected the ten award recipients.
Teachers learned of the honor when their principals and colleagues surprised them with an Amazon box filled with Amazon Future Engineer swag. Each of the award-winning teachers received a prize package valued at more than $30,000, which includes $25,000 to expand computer science or robotics education at their respective schools, as well as a $5,000 cash award for each educator to celebrate their exemplary work with students.
Amazon Future Engineer is a childhood-to-career computer science education program intended to inspire and educate millions of students globally, including hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. each year. Students explore computer science through school curriculum and project-based learning, using code to make music, program robots, and solve problems. Amazon Future Engineer also awards 100 students each year with four-year, $40,000 scholarships and paid internships at Amazon. Now in its second year, the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award program is part of Amazon’s commitment to STEM and computer science education. For 2021, Amazon has a goal to reach 1.6 million students from historically underrepresented communities globally through Amazon Future Engineer with real-world-inspired virtual and hands-on computer science project learning. The program is currently available in the U.S., U.K., France, and Canada.
Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a small percentage from underrepresented communities. 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 other occupations.
Learn more about a few of our 2021 Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipients at About Amazon.
If you or someone you know would like to be considered for this honor, sign up for an email reminder to apply this fall for the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award.