New High School in Newark Aims to Bring More People of Color Into Data Science, Information Tech Industry

That opportunity could prove to be vital and change the trajectory of the lives of many young children in Newark. Today, there stands a stark gap in the number of people of color compared to white people in the tech industry. 

In 2020, TrustRadius, a business-to-business review platform, surveyed employees at both tech providers and IT organizations to review the status of people of color in the tech industry. The report found that of 1,207 respondents (53% of whom identified as people of color), only 6.8% of computing and math-related jobs are held by Black and Latinx people.

That’s not anywhere good enough for the Newark school’s first principal, Liana Summey.

“I believe that I truly wanted to be an educational leader when as a young person, much like many of my students, I became aware of how pervasive systemic inequalities were in our society,” said Summey. “I began to realize that education is truly the pathway to breaking these cyclical barriers that have been instituted for so long in our society and in our country, so that it is not lost on me that I am leading a school that is prepared to lead students to enter a workforce that is underrated by both people of color and women.”

Summey explained that growing up, she was inspired to become an educator by her mother who taught at Barringer and West Side high schools for nearly 25 years. 

Prior to being appointed principal at the new high school, Summey taught high school English at East Side High School and led the school's innovative and alternative programming for two years. She also worked in the district’s central office as a special assistant and most recently the executive assistant to the deputy superintendent. 

Now at the helm of Data Science & Information Technology, Summey said she wants her students to make a positive impact in the community. 

“Our core beliefs are to inspire our students,” she told TAPinto Newark. “We don’t just want them to be technology leaders. We want them to use the skills they learn to become game changers.”  

In order to put Newark students on track towards becoming industry-leading figures, officials said the goal is to prepare them for immediate college and career opportunities by combining the most innovative curriculum in the field and cutting-edge, industry-leading technology. 

In addition to providing students with a curriculum focused in areas such as data science and applications, cybersecurity, and various computing skills, they will also be provided with various resources and services from industry-leading organizations.  

Microsoft and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) partnered with the school to offer its students a number of services. Microsoft, the world-renowned tech corporation, is working with the school through its Imagine Academy to provide students with industry certifications needed to succeed in today’s field. 

As one of the largest organizations in the country that handles cybersecurity and securing networks, the DEA will help students gain hands-on experience to equip them with the necessary skills in today’s tech industry. 

“We’re partnering with Newark schools to help students learn the digital and social-emotional skills they need to thrive both in this new learning paradigm and in the future,” said Renata Ruiz, a modern workplace specialist at Microsoft and product of the Newark Public Schools District. 

The new school, located at 746 Sanford Ave., replaces the former M.E.T.S. Charter School after it was closed in 2020 by the state Education Commissioner. 

The building has since undergone a number of changes and upgrades over the past year, including new floors, lighting, furniture and painting. In order to accommodate the school’s data and tech-driven curriculum, Havier Nazario, chief of staff for the superintendent, said that new white boards and various instructional technologies were also installed. 

Just moments before district officials, school leaders and students gathered in the gymnasium to hold a ribbon-cutting for the school’s ceremonial opening, it was not lost on Newark Public Schools District Superintendent Roger León as to what the new school meant for the city. 

“The biggest message of our new schools is being innovative and creative. That attracts what students need and what families want,” León told TAPinto Newark. “Data Science & Information Technology is a symbol of that.”

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-09-30 03:13:41 -0700