Bronx Teacher Wins Amazon Teacher of the Year

Explorations Academy Educator Cesar Barreto Named Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year


Amazon awards Bronx computer science teacher Cesar Barreto and his school, Explorations Academy High School, a prize package valued at $30,000 for exemplary work with students


Barreto is one of ten award recipients from across the U.S. to be recognized for going above and beyond to inspire his students to build skills in computer science and to promote diversity and inclusion in the field


Bronx, NY – June 22, 2021 – Cesar Barreto, a Computer Science teacher at Explorations Academy High School, has been selected among thousands of eligible teachers as a 2021 Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipient. Barreto will receive a prize package valued at more than $30,000, which includes $25,000 to expand computer science and/or robotics education at his school and a $5,000 teacher cash award. Explorations Academy H.S. plans to use the prize to secure equipment for computer sciences classes.


Cesar Barreto learned of the honor when his colleagues surprised him with an Amazon box filled with Amazon Future Engineer swag.

“Before receiving the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year award, we did not have sufficient robots and technology manipulatives to share between computer science students to deliver coding and hands-on experiences in robotics,” said Barreto. “The award will help supply robotics equipment for our computer science classes. My students and I will also benefit from the wealth of curriculum resources available through Amazon Future Engineer, including their free robotics courses, virtual tours, class chats, cyber robotics and app challenges, and so much more.” 


“I was thrilled to learn that Mr. Barreto was selected to receive this award,” noted Jake Hobson, Principal, Explorations Academy H.S. “He is a dedicated teacher who is passionate about his job and his students. He truly deserves this recognition.”


Barreto started his college education at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College after moving to New York from Colombia. He earned his associate’s degree in applied sciences then enrolled at City University of New York (CUNY), where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in biology. While in CUNY’s ethology Ph.D. degree program, Barreto was recruited to teach by former Explorations Academy H.S. principal Susana Hernandez because they needed more male, Hispanic, bilingual science teachers as role models at the school. He has taught at Explorations Academy for 12 years.


“It has been an especially difficult year for teachers so we are excited to recognize their hard work and commitment to their students’ success,” said Victor Reinoso, Global Director, Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon in the Community. “The Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipients work diligently to help students in underserved and underrepresented communities build life-changing skills to propel their futures in computer science. We celebrate their tireless efforts to increase access to technology and computer literacy in their classrooms and beyond.”



Barreto is one of ten teachers across the country who received the Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award. Recipients were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including their commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within computer science education, a recommendation from a school administrator and compelling, personal anecdotes about their school and students. Scholarship America reviewed applicants and selected the award recipients.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the market for computer science professionals will grow 11% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations and, as of May 2020, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $91,250, which is more than twice the median annual wage for all occupations. Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a small percentage from underrepresented communities. Students from underserved and underrepresented communities are 8 to 10 times more likely to pursue college degrees in computer science if they have taken AP computer science in high school. 


Amazon Future Engineer is a childhood-to-career computer science education program intended to inspire and educate millions of students globally, including hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. each year. Students explore computer science through school curriculum and project based learning using code to make music, program robots, and solve problems. Amazon Future Engineer also awards 100 students each year with four-year, $40,000 scholarships and paid internships at Amazon, and celebrates teachers with professional development and $25,000 Teacher of the Year Awards. Amazon Future Engineer is part of Amazon’s commitment to STEM and computer science education. This year, Amazon has a goal to reach 1.6 million students from underrepresented communities globally through Amazon Future Engineer with real-world-inspired virtual and hands-on computer science project learning. The program is currently available in the U.S., UK, France, and Canada.

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