‘Setting an example’: Dartmouth High wins computer science grant

Dec 6, 2022

Dartmouth High was awarded a $10,000 grant from Code.org at a press conference on Monday, Dec. 5, to help develop the school’s computer science program.

Dartmouth was one of 102 schools nationwide to receive such grants from the nonprofit, which specializes in promoting computer science education, especially in underserved communities.

Robert Perrotti, head of Dartmouth High’s recently-created business, innovation and technology department, said the money would help the school continue its goal of modernizing the curriculum.

“The students really need to learn the skills for the modern day and moving into the future,” he said. “We want to try to bring our students up to the professional level so that when they graduate, they’re already ahead of their peers.”

While Perrotti doesn’t yet know exactly what the grant will be used for, he said the department has the freedom to allocate it however it sees fit to improve computer science education, including purchasing hardware and software or investing in professional development for teachers.

“We have a lot of important conversations over the next few weeks about what $10,000 can do for our students,” said computer science teacher Brian Guillotte.

Hannah Weissman, the policy director for Code.org, who attended the press conference, said that the funding is part of her organization’s push to move to invest directly in individual schools, rather than just supplying free lessons as it has in the past.

“We try to make it as accessible as possible,” she said, “but at some point you still need the funding.”

Weissman said that grant recipients were chosen based on their dedication to computer science education, but not necessarily on the strength of their programs at the time of applying.

“We’re supporting some schools at all stages [of computer science curriculum development],” she said. “We really looked for schools that were committed to the programs.”

She said that Dartmouth High was a great role model for schools looking to expand such programs.

“The fact that [Dartmouth] even has a technology department is cool,” she said. “In the state of Massachusetts, Dartmouth is really setting an example.”