Posted by CSTA on May 22, 2023
We interviewed board member Audra Kaplan about her CSTA experience, fondest memories and hopes for the future of CS. Get to know Audra!
What is your name, preferred pronouns, title, and place of employment?
Audra Kaplan, she/her, Middle School Computer Science Teacher at Ottoson Middle School in Arlington, Massachusetts. Go Bulldogs!
What’s your favorite CS experience (e.g. teaching, research, other experience related to CS)?
One of my most cherished CS experiences was organizing a district-wide Hour of Code event, which stands as a proud accomplishment. High school student ambassadors, under my guidance, curated a diverse range of age-appropriate plugged and unplugged activities that impacted four schools from kindergarten to twelfth grade. We transformed hallways, gymnasiums, libraries, cafeterias, and any available space into interactive stations and coding sessions. It was an inclusive event where one of our students even conducted activities in Spanish with Scratch for our language classes. The enthusiasm and joy were palpable as both the high schoolers leading the activities and the younger students being taught by “the big kids” had an incredible time. This event became an annual tradition, running successfully for several years. Witnessing the excitement and learning unfold during that event was immensely rewarding, leaving a lasting impression on all participants involved.
How long have you been involved in the CSTA?
I embarked on my CSTA journey back in the fall of 2012 when I attended a Greater Boston chapter meetup. It was an awe-inspiring experience to connect with educators who exude such passion for computer science. The invaluable resources and activities they shared enabled me to enhance my curriculum right away. Now in my third term, I am privileged to serve as a co-president of the Greater Boston chapter, immersing myself in fostering educational growth. Currently, I proudly represent the CSTA as the K8 board representative, continuing my commitment to advancing computer science education. My involvement with the CSTA has been an enriching and transformative journey that has deepened my love for teaching and connecting with fellow educators.
What motivates you to be involved with CSTA?
What drives me to be involved with CSTA is the remarkable combination of the people, mission, and work involved. Throughout my 23-year career in education, I have never encountered such a devoted community of educators who wholeheartedly support one another in the pursuit of creating a more inclusive and equitable computer science education for all. In many districts, the availability of computer science teachers is limited, if not nonexistent. This is where CSTA plays a vital role. As an organization of dedicated educators, CSTA ensures that learning opportunities, access to curriculum, and valuable resources are accessible to all educators. This empowers them to advocate for and develop their own robust computer science programs, ultimately ensuring that every student has an equal opportunity to receive a comprehensive and equitable computer science education. Being part of CSTA allows me to contribute to this transformative work and make a meaningful impact in the field of computer science education.
What have you learned that’s most interesting to you either about the CSTA or K-12 CS Education?
What I find most fascinating about CSTA is their unwavering dedication to listening and giving back to their members. CSTA’s ability to shape their work based on the state of CS education and the needs and desires of their members is truly remarkable. As an educator, I have a thirst for knowledge and CSTA has been instrumental in providing me with numerous opportunities for growth. What sets CSTA apart is that their initiatives and offerings are created by educators, for educators driven by a common goal to enhance CS education while fostering inclusive learning experiences for both educators and students alike. CSTA’s commitment to continuous improvement and their teacher-led approach have made them an invaluable resource for the CS education community.
What do you hope for CS education in the future? How do you believe CSTA will help in achieving this?
In the future, my vision for CS education is that it becomes seamlessly integrated into all content areas, akin to reading, writing, and arithmetic. It should be viewed as an essential component of education, rather than something separate or optional. I know that CSTA plays a pivotal role in achieving this goal by consistently offering training, support, and resources to computer science educators. Through their initiatives, CSTA will ensure that every student and teacher has equal access to the opportunities and resources needed to incorporate the fundamental skills that computer science has to offer. My aspiration is for every student and teacher to experience the joy of learning, creativity, and critical thinking as independent and collaborative members of our global society. CSTA’s commitment to empowering educators and promoting inclusive education will drive the integration of CS skills and mindset into every classroom, ultimately shaping a future where CS is an integral part of education for all.
What else would you like to add that might be interesting to readers about you, your commitment to CSTA or perhaps why others should also be interested in becoming involved?
CSTA has played a significant role in shaping my professional journey, providing me with countless opportunities for growth and connection. Through CSTA, I have not only gained valuable resources and knowledge but have also forged meaningful friendships with like-minded educators who share a passion for CS education. Being part of CSTA has broadened my horizons, exposing me to diverse perspectives and innovative practices that have enriched my teaching and learning.
Moreover, my commitment to CSTA stems from the organization’s unwavering dedication to supporting and empowering educators. CSTA recognizes the crucial role that teachers play in fostering the next generation of computer scientists and technologically literate individuals. By joining CSTA, educators gain access to a vast network of support, professional development opportunities, and resources specifically tailored to their needs.
For those considering getting involved with CSTA, I wholeheartedly encourage you to take the leap. CSTA offers a wealth of benefits, including access to a vibrant community of educators, the latest updates and research in CS education, and opportunities to contribute to the advancement of the field. Through CSTA, you can make a tangible impact on the lives of students, help shape the future of CS education, and be part of a supportive network that is dedicated to empowering teachers.
In summary, my journey with CSTA has been transformative, providing me with invaluable opportunities, lasting friendships, and a deepened commitment to improving CS education. I encourage others to explore the world of CSTA, embrace the growth it offers, and join a community that is passionate about revolutionizing CS education for the betterment of all students.