CSTA-MD President, teacher, facilitator, CS advocate
How did you get into CS?
I grew up playing videos games at a friend's house. His dad was an engineer and had three networked computers in the house back in 2001. We learned how to take apart computers, put them back together, and play computer games over the local area network. In high school, I took a computer repair class. I didn't go to college right away, but when I turned 21, I enrolled at Coastal Carolina University in the computer science program. I was deciding between CS and Psychology.
What encouraged or discouraged you in your initial journey?
Initially, in college, my most significant encouragement came from my close friends. Since I started college a little late, several of my friends from my hometown were graduating college with degrees in engineering, so I felt a need to educate myself further.
My most significant discouragement was how computer science was introduced to me in college. I look back at it now. There was no collaboration, YouTube was not really a platform to learn on, and there weren't websites you could go to teach yourself. Much of what I knew was from a textbook or my professor. I remember many nights sitting in the computer science department, working and struggling with other students in the same situation. I look at myself as an educator now, and there are so many resources and teacher practices that are essential as a CS educator to support student learning.
Describe some aspect of teaching CS you especially like.
I really enjoy Project-based learning. Students learn a few skills and then apply them in a project where they can be creative and build on their own experiences, interests, and self-expression.
What is your vision for CSTA-MD?
My vision for CSTA-MD is that it is a place for teachers to connect and grow. We are member-focused, a voice for teachers, driven by teachers. We are committed to equity and inclusive practices. Everyone is welcome to join CSTA-MD. Our monthly meetings are a place where members can network, share, and grow together. (visit cs4md.com/csta for more info)
What are some of the accomplishments of the CS program in your district?
- Calvert County has created a four-year high school CS program. All high schools offer all 4 courses
- There is a High school CS coordinator position
- Girls Who Code has been running in the county for over five years
- A 7th and 8th-grade CS course has been created
- Hundreds of teachers have taken CS PD
- We run a successful Hour of Code at all grade levels
- We've offered four years of CCPS Family Code Nights
- Five years of a computer science section at the annual Science and Engineering EXPO
What are your recommendations for ways to stay connected and energized?
- Join your local CSTA and be an active member (maryland.csteachers.org)
- Join the Facebook CS group. They have so many resources! Everything from entire courses in Schoology or Google classroom to icebreakers, how to set up your classroom, assessment, and note-taking.
- Keep learning. Right now I'm experimenting with co-drones, Finch robots, and Hummingbird kits.
Challenge yourself to become an expert in this space. It's a rapidly growing area in high demand. I'm finishing up my Ph.D. in IT with a focus on curriculum development. Advanced degrees have become much more affordable, look into the options and funding support from your district.
- Contribute to the field. I'm currently working on developing the CSD (FOCS) course for MSDE on their new Canvas system for students to earn their tech credit online through the state virtual school.
- Go to the CSTA conference every year! My favorite new things from the 2021 CSTA conference were building a theme park with micro:bits while learning about hardware and software. Building a finch arena in the room where you can live program the real robot through the wifi. (students can even program a real robot from home) and MakeCode now has a teacher platform as well as free student tools.