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The Tetris game developed by a Kentucky high school student using Code.org. (Twitter screen grab via @hadip)

In a Twitter thread on Tuesday, Hadi Partovi, the longtime Seattle entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Code.org, provided some insight into why he loves his job.

In 12 tweets, Partovi laid out the story of a Kentucky high school student, a video game, a teacher and Code.org’s place in the dynamic as a nonprofit dedicated to helping more kids gain access to a computer science education. (Partovi’s thread starts with this tweet, and the entire stream is embedded at bottom of story.)

Partovi first noticed a tweet from teacher Larry Correll of Glasgow High School, who shared a video of a Tetris game created by student Spencer Applegate using tools on Code.org. Partovi tried to play the game, but it didn’t work as well on his smartphone as it did on desktop, and he learned that Applegate didn’t have a phone of his own.

Glasgow was named the poorest community in Kentucky in a report by USA Today last year, and 70 percent of the high school’s 600 students receive free/reduced lunch and 14 percent are homeless, Correll told Partovi. But the teacher said the high school continues to rank in the top 10 percent of Kentucky schools and was ranked seventh best high school by US News.

After hearing from Correll about Applegate’s potential as senior who is gifted in math and science, with a talent for programming, Partovi sent the student a new phone.

“We have seen so many students make amazing games and apps on Code.org,” Partovi told GeekWire on Wednesday. “In fact, just this week a student made their own re-make of Pac-Man. What stood out in this case was that this is a school in a very low income town in Kentucky. About one in six students in the school are homeless, and most will never afford college. The idea that a student in this school made such a great app yet didn’t have a phone to try it on is what inspired me to reach out.”

Tweets in Partovi’s thread show Applegate opening the gift in class and the Tetris game being played on a mobile device.

Correll told Partovi that with the help of Code.org, Glasgow High School offered students a computer science class, AP CS Principles, for the first time last year and that 22 of 24 students received a 3 or higher (passing score) on the AP exam. At the same time, computer science classes were introduced in local elementary schools and a middle school.

“The work we do at Code.org is a lot more than providing software and curriculum,” Partovi said. “We provide a year-round professional development and support program for teachers who want to begin teaching computer science, and that’s exactly the program Larry Correll was part of. Aside from the story of the student, what stands out is that this is a teacher that is teaching computer science for the first time, and his entire class is crushing it, in such an unexpected part of the country.

“Talent and genius is everywhere, opportunity is not,” Partovi added. “That’s part of what we’re trying to fix at Code.org.”

Check out Applegate’s game here, and read Partovi’s tweets below:

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