First Daughter Codes at Middleburg


Middleburg Community Charter School (MCCS) had three high-level classroom aides on Wednesday, September 27th.

Senior Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump; Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer; and Hadi Partovi, CEO of the education non-profit came to MCCS to take part in an Hour of Coding in the fourth/fifth grade classroom of Katie Brennen and Kelly Collins. Afterward, the trio met with the entire student body in the school’s great room.

“I am really passionate about creating opportunity and breaking barriers for people so that they all achieve the American Dream,” Trump told the fourth- and fifth-graders. “Coding is not only really, really cool…but it’s so important for whatever it is that you want to do.”

On Monday, Trump’s father, President Trump gave a directive to the federal Department of Education instructing it to explore ways to add or increase computer science to existing K-12 and post-secondary education programs. The directive also established a goal of devoting at least $200 million each year in grants toward funding this priority.

“It is such an important foundational skill to have regardless of what you decide to do with your lives,” Ivanka Trump said Wednesday. “Technology is reinventing every profession. I encourage you to get excited about it.” 

Partovi came to America from Iran as a child and offered a personal testament to how coding can change your life. “I learned coding when I was 10 years old from my dad and it really changed my career and helped me get a job in technology. I realized that…in the 21st century, every kid should have at least the opportunity to learn this.”

Partovi spent summers working as a software engineer to help pay his way through high school and college. Upon graduating from Harvard with a master’s degree in computer science, he rose through the executive ranks at Microsoft. In 2013, Partovi and his twin brother Ali, launched the education nonprofit, which Partovi continues to lead full-time as CEO. Partovi invented the Hour of Code four years ago, which now has 100 million participants worldwide.

“I make these coding tutorials and curriculum so schools can teach computer science…You’re lucky because you have the chance to learn computer science in school.”

Parvoti said computers are everywhere – desktops, tablets, phones, cars – and students need to know how to interact with them. “It’s important as you grow up to learn how computers work, just like you learn how plants grow, just like you learn why the sky is blue or why the sun makes heat.”

Smith said he hoped the fourth- and fifth-graders know how fortunate they are to participate in exercises like the Hour of Code. “One out of 10 kids around the world have done the Hour of Code. Ten out of 10 kids in this room have done the Hour of Code. What that really means is – in most places you go around the world – nine kids out of 10 are not. You all have a head start and I think that’s really exciting…You all have the ability to go as far as you want.”   

Parvoti said coding is dominated by white and Asian men and that this has to change if everybody is to benefit from technology. “The reason is it’s not being taught in schools…By doing this as part of the school system, we can get everyone learning – especially the girls.”

Trump noted that only 22 percent of workers in the computer science field are women. “But we’re going to change that, right ladies?”

Smith told the student body he had an epiphany while working with the fourth- and fifth-graders. “Coding is lots of things, but it’s actually… at the end of the day, a team sport. It’s about helping each other… It’s about bringing a lot of skills together and working together as a team.”

School Board member Eric Dekennip attended the MCCS event.