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ASU grad student establishes first comprehensive public-school cybersecurity curriculum

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April 01, 2024

Written by Tony Roth,

As a school superintendent based in Pennsylvania, Arizona State University graduate student Phil Martell is leveraging his online degree to integrate cybersecurity education into the K–12 curriculum within his school district.

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Phil Martell

Under Martell's leadership, the district established the first comprehensive cybersecurity curriculum in a public school in the United States. This innovative curriculum, aligned with industry standards and frameworks, offers students a pathway to explore cybersecurity careers starting as early as sixth grade.

Martell's efforts have not gone unnoticed. His dedication to advancing cybersecurity education and workforce development has garnered national recognition and positioned him as a leader in the field.

He has been invited to the White House on two occasions, including a Cybersecurity Summit kickoff event, where he shared insights from his pioneering work. Additionally, Martell's district has been recognized nationally, earning accolades such as the National School Superintendents Association Lighthouse School District designation.

Recognizing the need for ongoing education and skill development in cybersecurity, Martell decided to pursue advanced studies through ASU Online in its Master of Arts in global security program.

The comprehensive curriculum provided him with a broad understanding of cybersecurity concepts beyond technical aspects — including resilience, policy and strategic planning.

"ASU's MAGS program equipped me with the skills and knowledge necessary to tackle emerging challenges in the cybersecurity landscape," Martell said. "The program's comprehensiveness allowed me to expand my thinking and approach cybersecurity from multiple angles essential for addressing the evolving nature of cyber threats."

Martell's dedication to cybersecurity education extends beyond his district. He actively collaborates with industry partners, educational institutions and government agencies to share best practices and develop innovative solutions.

Through initiatives like Raise the Bar, Martell mentors other districts facing similar workforce challenges.

"I believe in the power of collaboration and knowledge-sharing to address the critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals," Martell said. "By working together, we can better prepare our students for the demands of the cybersecurity workforce and safeguard our nation's digital infrastructure."

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