SMITHFIELD – Any student in the past 11 years who took computer science courses at Smithfield High School has Michael Deslauriers to thank, and the Smithfield School Department has extended its own thanks and recognition to the math teacher in naming him the 2021 Smithfield Teacher of the Year.
During a presentation at Monday’s meeting, Supt. Judy Paolucci said Deslauriers began teaching in 2001, and soon after recognized a need for students to learn computer science, beginning classes in 2010.
After years of teaching all-male computer science classes, Deslauriers began exploring ways to bring girls into the computer science classroom and other courses.
Paolucci said Deslauriers brought in grants to create two new programs, computer science and information technology, focused on bridging the disparity of females in computer science and technology.
In addition to many other accomplishments, Deslauriers also won the Aspirations in Computer Programming Award for his commitment to encouraging interest in computer science for women, gender non-binary, and queer people.
Paolucci said of the numerous great educators in Smithfield, it was a difficult choice selecting a teacher of the year.
“Michael is well-deserving of this acknowledgment,” she said.
Deslauriers thanked the School Department for the award, with members of his family and members of the math department on the call during Monday’s Zoom meeting to help celebrate.
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Deslauriers said he is most proud of his efforts at boosting interest in computer science programs.
“It’s definitely getting more females into computer science and getting the program going,” he said when asked about his greatest achievements.
He runs three after-school programs, including Girls Who Code, the App Inventors Club and the Cyber Patriot Team.
Principal Dan Kelley said Deslauriers is a great teammate in the math department and said there are many students who prove that this teacher’s commitment worked. Kelley said senior Bailey Gaffney presented to the School Committee the “perfect success story” of taking a student not interested in computer science to a person who will now major in information technology at the University of Rhode Island in the fall.
“That’s thanks to Mike and him having the foresight to start working and putting these programs and CTE (career and technology education) pathways together,” Kelley said.