Principal Shannon Calden is excited that her students at San Lorenzo Valley Middle School will get the opportunity to become student tech leaders in the inaugural Google GenerationYES Program.

Google began GenYES at 10 campuses this year, including SLVMS. Kids learns the basics of using digital tools, programming, hardware and creative problem-solving to create graphics, animation, multimedia presentations and online publishing.

San Lorenzo Valley High teacher Mikey Henderson is teaching the after-school class to 27 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at SLVMS.

“This is really exciting,” Calden said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “It’s a unique opportunity to extend the science, technology engineering and math — the STEM — education.”

The students will get a certificate from Google at the end of the coursework but only if they commit to the entire course. Then Calden hopes they will become so technically proficient that they will help their teachers develop new curriculum and ways to learn.

“It’s almost that slipped-learning model where all of the sudden the students are the teachers and the teachers are students,” she said. “I think really kind of where my vision is or where I see that it’s going to go is we are going to be creating a tech squad, so to speak. That may be something that they do within their school days where they’re going out and giving support and leadership to their teachers to help them to help the students do other things in the classroom.”

Calden said she wants to harness the innate tech proficiency that kids seem to have and turn it into career opportunities, a way to expand STEM learning at SLVMS and a mindset of lifelong learning for students.

“I’m going to be very interested to see where it goes,” she said. “These kinds of things are what we are trying to do as a middle school. We’re trying to offer every opportunity that we have to our students to expand their learning. That’s very important to us.”

Get more information about the GenYES program and goals at

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