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Greg Scott, who teaches at Forest Grove High School, created a computer science class in Spanish.

COURTESY PHOTO: FOREST GROVE SCHOOL DISTRICT - TechStart executive director Pete Steinfeld presents Greg Scott with the Technology Educator of the Year Award.Greg Scott noticed something was off in his computer science class.

Out of 20 students, everyone spoke English at home. But at Forest Grove High School, over 40% of students speak English as a second language.

With community college classes, comic books and what he remembered from high school Spanish class in the 1980s, Scott created a computer science class in Spanish, "Introducción a la Ciencia de Computadoras." It's now in its third year.

This week, Scott was named High School Technology Educator of the Year by TechStart, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting computer science education in Oregon.

"I looked at my class and realized in spite of people telling me I was a computer science teacher, I had been doing something wrong. I was missing half the population at my school," Scott said.

Of his Spanish-language course, he remarked, "I'm teaching students who would be honor students if it weren't for the language barrier. For the computer science program, it was an untapped market of potential."

To finish up the year, students are programming web pages and designing video games.

Scott took an alternative path to teaching. The Midwesterner graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in math in his 30s and was first a data analyst for a bank in Virginia.

"I didn't have the temperament for an office job, so I moved back to Minnesota to get my teaching license," Scott said.

His wife was hired at Oregon Health & Science University, and in summer 2015, Forest Grove High School hired Scott to teach math and start its computer science program.

Scott said the Spanish-language course is designed to prepare students for higher-level computer science classes.

The department now also offers classes in web design and video game design, as well as two Advanced Placement courses.

In the classroom, Scott describes his approach as laid-back.

"I find things that are fun to do and mostly get out of the way. To a lot of my students, I am more of a guide," Scott said.

Still learning himself how to better teach students, Scott takes Spanish classes at night at Portland Community College twice weekly. He's been listening to podcasts and audiobooks in Spanish, and even reading graphic novels in Spanish.

The award from TechStart comes with $1,000 toward classroom supplies.

"It's nice to be recognized. I don't think anyone teaches to get awards," Scott said. "I just think it's another testament that Forest Grove is a good high school, and the community support there is great. I feel like part of a really good public education system that really does strive to offer opportunities to everyone. That's important."

Jason Galbraith, a computer science teacher at Sunset High School in Beaverton, was a co-recipient of the award.

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