Early College High is leading the way in developing skills worth hiring in today’s tech era. Linda Thomason’s computer coding class is something special. High school students are acquiring an indescribable desire for code through Dev Catalyst, a technology education program offered by theCO.

“We have around ten students and other kids who are not even in the class were wanting to come in and just watch,” Mrs. Thomason explained.

As a first-year Dev Catalyst participating school, students are showing enthusiasm and excitement. This aspiration and hunger for excellence is instilled in each student and ingrained in the school’s fundamental mission, identity, and environment.

At Early College High, students are encouraged to garner skills that transcend workplaces. Though the emphasis is on academics, there is equal emphasis on skills that are hirable.

“We try to get them as job-ready as possible,” Principal Lewis said. “Each student has a very individualized plan, and it’s very unique to that particular student.” 

Principal Lewis explained that students are taught what some have missed: the soft skills, such as hand shaking, interviewing, and professional dress. These skills are nurtured through Professional Dress Day, mock interviews, and the constant influx of mentors willing to pour into their lives.

This culture of individuality, excellence, and awareness spills over to Mrs. Thomason’s coding and web development classes.

With training and education at Early College High, students have the opportunity to graduate with an associate’s degree. Early College High is one of the only schools in the state to provide this opportunity, and as a school whose mission is to develop skills worth hiring, it continues to excel in its first year as a Dev Catalyst school.

According to the Tennessee Department of Education, 71% of STEM jobs are in computing. The department’s latest mission is to make sure Tennessee can keep those jobs. 

“For our community to be successful, our students must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to embark upon a STEM education-to-career learning pathway,” explained Principal Lewis. “To achieve this, though, we need to make it our goal to increase the number of students who come through our school districts prepared for these high-demand STEM-related careers.”

Early College High is a reminder of the importance of Dev Catalyst’s initiative to provide coding and web development material to high school students who would not otherwise have the chance to grow in that area.