Collaboration results in special STEM class

Industry experts and Microsoft partner with Notre Dame faculty to teach AP-level computer programming. Up to four college credit hours possible from U-M with new class. 

Microsoft's TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program helps high schools throughout the U.S. and British Columbia, Canada, build and grow sustainable computer science programs. The software giant says TEALS encourages the pairing of trained computer-science professionals from across the technology industry with classroom teachers to team-teach computer science. The concept, according to Microsoft, is designed so that industry volunteers and their partner teachers create a ripple effect, impacting the students they teach as well as the many students who will study computer science in the future. 

This week, Notre Dame Prep students are continuing to study and prepare for the final exam for AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP), a direct offshoot of the TEALS program. Notre Dame introduced the class last fall as it continued to expand its curriculum into the STEM fields. The TEALS class features a teaching team, according to Katrina Palushaj, NDP's computer science teacher. 

"This team-based approach to education allows both the students and regular course instructor to gain valuable insights from industry experts in this highly technical field," Palushaj said. "Our NDP teaching team consists of Tim Philippart, an embedded controls software expert, and Felipe Sanchez-Flores, who works as a software engineering expert, and myself." 

Notre Dame Prep’s AP CSP class started out with the study of the basic structure and design of the internet as well as any real-world implications of design decisions made within any web-based environments. Students also explored the many ways information can be encoded, represented and manipulated digitally. 

"Students in grades 10 through 12 can take this class, but they must have the computer fundamentals class as a prerequisite with at least a grade B to get in," she said. 

"In the beginning, students in this class learned about binary numbers and binary number systems," Palushaj said. "Once that solid foundation is built, they are introduced to computer programming via the JavaScript programming language using an application development environment provided by" 

In addition. students learn about Big Data, a methodology used to accumulate information about the economy, internet privacy, cybersecurity, data visualization and other foundational concepts that allow NDP students to build rich, interactive, and functioning software applications. In fact, according to Palushaj and her team, a large part of the AP CSP exam itself is having the students create and submit a functioning software-application to the Advanced Placement board for test credit.

According to Palushaj, the successful completion of the class could also lead to college credits.

"Several well-respected universities, including the University of Michigan, could potentially give students who score a 4 or 5 on the AP CSP test up to four credit hours toward their future degree," she said. "This class really provides a great opportunity for Notre Dame students to obtain an abundance of knowledge on computer programming that can be applied to their future engineering or software endeavors. Our team looks forward to teaching the AP CSP class again in the fall and further strengthening our school's curriculum offerings in STEM."

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Prep enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's Marist Academy enrolls students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. NDPMA is an International Baccalaureate "World School" and is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers. It is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at