DETROIT – In the last five years I have been working to increase the number of Michigan students in the CyberPatriot program.  During that time, I have run into teachers that go so far and beyond their normal teaching duties it leaves me speechless.  Let me explain.

CyberPatriot  is an annual afterschool program from October until March.  The main program is for Middle School and High School aged students that compete in a national multiple level cybersecurity virtual competition.  A team can be at a school, church, recreation center, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts even a home school group of 2-6 players.  It takes one responsible adult to be the “coach” of record to supervise the team.  Most schools require that person to be one of their teachers, so that leaves the responsibility for team practices and competition days firmly on the teacher’s shoulders.

Tamara Shoemaker

Tamara Shoemaker

So after a long day dealing with the students, something we are all getting a taste of with this “sheltering at home” situation.   Our brave teachers are not only taking on an after-school program but one in which they probably know little about.  Now don’t get me wrong the CyberPatriot program is one of the easiest programs to implement, run by the Air Force Association it is extremely organized with everything one would need including tutorials and free CISCO training.  The AFA even has a “mentor” or technical advisor system built right into the program.

What I first became aware of was the lack of training and education our amazing teachers have in straight up IT, let alone the new field of cybersecurity.  While some of our schools are fortunate enough to have teachers that teach technology with that background, most do not.  Yet with little or no budget for re-tooling for our teachers they were brave enough to volunteer to stand up IT/Computer Science or Cybersecurity programs.  Adding the CyberPatriot competition does help them jump-start those programs but let us not forget that these brave teachers are on the front lines!

How can we help? The AFA has a “mentor” or technical advisor system built right into the program.   Join us in praising and supporting these brave teachers across Michigan by volunteering to become a “mentor” or technical advisor for a school in your community.  You can even “mentor” virtually to help some of the more remote locations across our magnificent state. Simple sign-up at and drop me a line so I can help match you with a team in need.  You can also donate to the Michigan CyberPatriot program at so  we can continue to support training and education opportunities for our Michigan teachers.

We are still planning Summer Camps for July 20-24th and August 3-7th in several locations across the state so keep checking our website for updates:   And we will be hosting the 3rd Annual Michigan CyberPatriot awards celebration as a virtual event live on Facebook in early June.

Tamara Shoemaker, Founder of the Michigan CyberPatriot Program and MCISSE an AFA Center of Excellence.  Director of the University of Detroit Mercy’s Center for Cyber Security and Intelligence Studies.