In 1990, Mike Zamansky left his job as a software engineer for Goldman Sachs and entered the teaching profession. A few years later, at New York City's prestigious Stuyvesant High School, he noticed a lack of opportunities for students to study computer science and related field. This started a twenty year journey to try to share his passion for computer science with youngsters and inspire them to go on to do great things in technology related fields.
Over the years Mike was joined by master teachers like JonAlf Dyrland-Weaver and Samuel Konstantinovich. Together, at Stuyvesant High School they have designed new courses, trained new teachers, run after school and summer programs, and built a community of Stuyvesant Computer Science Alumni that now permeate the Tech Industry.
Having dealt with the frustrations of working within the system to try to bring more opportunities to more youngsters and inspired by their alumni community, Mike, Sam, and JonAlf, have joined with Jennifer Hsu and Artie Jordan along with other members of the Stuy CS Community to form CSTUY, Computer Science and Technology for Urban Youth. An organization dedicated to bringing computer science and technology related educational opportunities to high school and middle school students.
Computer Science as a field faces a real dilemma. Due to licensing restrictions, there are very few teachers with strong computer science backgrounds. The flip side is that teaching is an art and a difficult one at that. The ability to teach at more than the most superficial level takes years to develop.
Most existing computer science programs are run by volunteers with limited teaching experience or by teachers with limited tech knowledge.
CSTUY has the advantage of having master teachers with strong technical backgrounds with a history of not only delivering inspirational instruction but also of developing courses and course sequences that are time tested.
While CSTUY is new, it is a natural growth out of the work that Mike, JonAlf, and Sam have been doing at Stuyvesant High School. While Stuyvesant still does not have a recognized computer science program, Mike, JonAlf, and Sam have inspired and graduated scores of technologists. They have created classes and sequences of classes, internship and mentoring opportunities and built a community of what are now hundreds of technology professionals. CSTUY will build and extend these programs.
The last year has seen a proliferation of "learn to code" classes and projects. Some have received a good amount of media attention. The typical refrain is that they have students writing mobile apps in a couple of weeks. While these programs expose the students to new technologies, the apps they create are nothing more than mock ups using tools that we see as akin to PowerPoint presentations.
At CSTUY, when developing a course or a program our first priority is substance. What will the kids learn from a given program? How will the students be able to use what we give them in the future? How have we set them up so that they can take the next steps both with CSTUY and on their own.