Amazon Recognizes Computer Science Educators with 2021 Teacher of the Year Award

Ten educators named Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year among thousands of eligible applicants for their outstanding work to promote diversity and inclusion in computer science and beyond.

SEATTLE--()--Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) is thrilled to announce the 2021 class of Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipients. Each year, Amazon recognizes ten dynamic teachers for their work to inspire students from underserved and historically underrepresented communities to pursue careers in computer science and robotics. The following educators are this year's recipients:

  • Mark Ahrens, Texas High School, Texarkana, TX
  • Cesar Barreto, Explorations Academy, Bronx, NY
  • Sheena Birgans-Wright, Prairie-Hills Junior High School, Markham, IL
  • Harold Brown, Newark Collegiate Academy, Newark, NJ
  • Melissa Collins, John P. Freeman Optional School, Memphis, TN
  • Christopher Hatten, KIPP Central City Academy, New Orleans, LA
  • Lorand Incze, Alisal High School, Salinas, CA
  • Terry Laesser, Melvindale High School, Melvindale, MI
  • Aris Pangilinan, Cardozo Education Campus, Washington, D.C.
  • Michelle Pierce, Mallard Creek STEM Academy, Charlotte, NC

"It has been an especially difficult year for teachers, so we are excited to recognize their hard work and commitment to their students' successes," said Victor Reinoso, Global Director, Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon in the Community. "The Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipients work diligently to help students in underserved and underrepresented communities build life-changing skills to propel their futures in computer science. We celebrate their tireless efforts to increase access to technology and computer literacy in their classrooms and beyond."

Recipients were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within computer science education, a recommendation from a school administrator, and compelling, personal anecdotes about their schools and students. Scholarship America reviewed the applications and selected the ten award recipients.

Teachers learned of the honor when their principals and fellow colleagues surprised them with an Amazon box filled with Amazon Future Engineer swag. Each of the award-winning teachers received a prize package valued at more than $30,000, which includes $25,000 to expand computer science and/or robotics education at their respective schools, as well as a $5,000 cash award for each educator to celebrate their exemplary work with students.

“Receiving this award meant the hard work and dedication that I have devoted to students paid off for them. I introduced my students to coding because I understand we live in a digital age and our children are our future,” said Dr. Melissa Collins, computer science teacher at John P. Freeman Optional School. “We have to work with our future generation so they can help change the narrative and become STEM professionals who help motivate and encourage other students.”

Amazon Future Engineer is a childhood-to-career computer science education program intended to inspire and educate millions of students globally, including hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. each year. Students explore computer science through school curriculum and project-based learning, using code to make music, program robots, and solve problems. Amazon Future Engineer also awards 100 students each year with four-year, $40,000 scholarships and paid internships at Amazon. Now in its second year, the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award program is part of Amazon's commitment to STEM and computer science education. For 2021, Amazon has a goal to reach 1.6 million students from historically underrepresented communities globally through Amazon Future Engineer with real-world-inspired virtual and hands-on computer science project learning. The program is currently available in the U.S., U.K., France, and Canada.

Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a small percentage from underrepresented communities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the market for computer science professionals will grow 11% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the average for all other occupations.

Learn more about a few of our 2021 Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipients at About Amazon.

If you or someone you know would like to be considered for this honor, sign up for an email reminder to apply this fall for the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award.

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company, Earth’s Best Employer, and Earth’s Safest Place to Work. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit and follow @AmazonNews.

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Release Summary

Ten educators named Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year for outstanding work to promote diversity and inclusion in computer science and beyond.

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