MISSION -- As the job market develops, it’s become increasingly evident that those wishing to succeed in the twenty-first century must be equipped with a twenty-first century education. This is why Mission CISD, in partnership with Mission Economic Development Corporation and Code/Interactive, is taking the first step in implementing an immersive computer science education in Mission schools.

Code/Interactive is a not-for-profit organization based in New York City that works to bring computer science education to students in all parts of America.

Tom O’Connell, Vice President and program manager for Code/Interactive, said coding is now a necessary skill in almost every modern profession.

“Why computer science? I’ll put it in Texas terms; because it’s big,” he said. “In all jobs whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher -- especially teachers -- you need to know good problem solving skills in order to live in 2017 while preparing for jobs in 2025 and 2030.”

This summer Code/Interactive trained 16 elementary school teachers, four junior high school teachers and three high school teachers from Mission CISD to implement coding curriculum into computer science classes in a meaningful way.

For Daniel Reyna III, a computer science teacher at Rafael Cantu Jr. High School, that means using coding and computer science principles to foster creativity and individualistic thinking in his classroom.

Reyna teaches 6th, 7th and 8th grade students basic computer science principles. The 6th grade students use a program with pre-made blocks of code to create presentations, while the 7th and 8th grade students work on hard coding such as Javascript and Python.

“At first the kids were a bit reluctant, they were already bestowed upon their ways and were used to a kind of ‘drone thinking,’” Reyna said. “So I had to explain to them that they were going to have to think about things differently in this class, and it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Now the kids are starting to open up and started thinking creatively and out-of-the-box. Their whole mentality and way of thinking changed completely.”

Those are precisely the type of skills Mission EDC wants their future workforce to have, which will hopefully attract employers in tech to Mission and the Rio Grande Valley as a whole.

Cristina Garza, program director for Mission EDC, said this program is a vital step in attracting higher skilled jobs to the city.

Garza noted if technology companies are to come to Mission there needs to be a workforce for it.

“So, unless we start investing in our education now we cannot expect to have those kinds of jobs in the future,” she said.

The program has impacted 600 Mission CISD so far, and that number is expected to rise in the coming school years. Teachers will be attending quarterly supplemental trainings to reinforce their curriculum knowledge.