Franklin and Eckstein Teachers Selected as Future Engineer Ambassadors
Summary: Two SPS Educators have been chosen for the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher Ambassador Program.
SPS Educators Chosen for Amazon Teacher Ambassador Program
Julie Gatti and Michele Amato have been selected among hundreds of eligible teachers for the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher Ambassador Program.
Gatti, an AP computer science and math teacher at Franklin High School, and Michele Amato, a STEM/computer science teacher at Eckstein Middle School, were selected to inspire their students and fellow teachers to build computer science skills and to promote diversity and inclusion in technology. Amato teaches robotics, game design, programming, 3D design and animation. She focuses on encouraging girls and non-binary students to take STEM classes.
“It is difficult to convince them that what they loved doing in elementary school they will still love in middle school,” Amato said. “STEM is not just for boys!”
Launched this year, the Amazon Future Engineer (AFE) Teacher Ambassador Program is a two-year, paid fellowship designed to increase access to computer science (CS) and technology for all students and educators. During the commitment, Ambassadors will engage in community listening, pilot differentiated strategies for teaching CS, share their insights, receive professional development opportunities, and connect with like-minded educators at industry conferences.
Gatti and Amato are two of the 50 educators from across the U.S. selected for the program’s inaugural cohort. The impressive group includes K-12th grade educators were chosen after a highly selective process based on a variety of criteria, including their commitment to increasing equitable access to computer science education and personal anecdotes about their teaching experience and school.
“Broad access to computer science resources is a critical enabler to positively impact the economic mobility of students,” said Victor Reinoso, global director of philanthropic education initiatives at Amazon. “If we want more equitable outcomes for our students and their families, we must prioritize giving them the computer science literacy skills high earning potential jobs demand.”
Gatti’s and Amato’s first project was to participate in a local listening tour, which started during the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher Ambassadors’ first convening in Seattle in July. During the kickoff session, educators shared their experiences and thoughts with the Amazon Future Engineer Community, which includes technology professionals, decision-makers and scholars. Ambassadors learned about AFE program offerings and resources that can greatly impact STEM education and help students explore careers of the future and were able to bring the products and curriculum back to their classrooms.
“We had so much fun … getting to tour the Spheres, meeting Amazon Interns, going to the Skills Center and getting to know each other,” Amato said. “Working with teachers from all 50 states who teach different grade levels and have unique job descriptions has been eye opening.”
Their roles as an AFE Teacher Ambassadors allows both teachers to seek out and actively listen to their community about their experiences, thoughts, and struggles with STEM and CS education and how these affect future careers and the workforce. Active listening can be informal conversations and Q&A activities with anybody in the community who wants address and be heard on these topics. The results of the conversations will be reported and become part of regional and national data that could impact future decisions on curricula, careers, and legislation.