Greenhill Grad Wants to Take Coding to the Classroom

Statistics show that the number of jobs in the technology sector available today far outnumber the number of qualified candidates to fill them.

Like most people, Zach Galant concluded that education wasn’t keeping up with workplace demand. Unlike most people, he decided to do something about it.

So the Preston Hollow native became an entrepreneur during his senior year at Stanford when he co-founded CodeHS, a company that provides curriculum and training to school districts looking to broaden their computer-science curriculum at the high-school level.

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“We saw a huge need for computer-science classes in high schools,” said Galant, who graduated from Greenhill. “We thought there could be a really great opportunity.”

Galant and his roommate, Jeremy Keeshin, each served as teaching assistants in the computer-science department at Stanford. Three years ago, they launched their effort to increase the number of computer-science teachers nationwide.

They knew that because of budget constraints in many districts, hiring new teachers wasn’t always an option. So CodeHS focuses on teaching the basics of coding to existing teachers, then giving them the tools to pass along that curriculum to their own students, many of which might be more technologically savvy.

“We provide training and professional development to teachers so they can feel confident in the classroom even if they don’t feel completely confident with the material,” said Galant, who first got into programming as an aspiring video-game designer and later dabbled in coding. He eventually started TeraByte, a technology outreach camp in Dallas that’s now run by his brother Jake, a senior at St. Mark’s.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10 percent of high schools offered computer-science classes in 2012. That number has more than doubled since.

Perhaps that explains why CodeHS has grown so quickly in terms of its client base, which now includes more than 12,000 teachers worldwide. The company, which is based in San Francisco, has 11 full-time staff members.

“It’s a good teaching model. They’re aligning everything with what we’re required to teach,” said Kerri Cobb, a business and marketing teacher at Bozeman High School in Montana. “They have excellent professional development. It’s one thing to learn [computer science], but it also gives you strategies as to how to teach it.”

Cobb said the interactive coding classes at her school have grown from 25 students to more than 100 in just two years since implementing CodeHS.

“One of our goals is to empower people through coding,” Galant said. “You can apply these skills in so many different fields and in so many different ways.”

This story originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Preston Hollow People.

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