Meet 2019-20 CSTA Equity Fellow Abigail Joseph.
In today’s CSTA Equity Fellow Spotlight, we’d like you to meet Abigail Joseph, the Middle School Director of Learning, Innovation, & Design at The Harker School in San Jose, California. Joseph is working together with Rebecca Luebker, on a project to create ways to encourage non-CS teachers to welcome CS into their curriculum.
Five Questions with Abigail Joseph
What do you hope to achieve as a CSTA Equity Fellow?
As a CSTA Equity Fellow, I hope to encourage more teachers to feel empowered that they can teach computer science. My hope is that in the grade levels where there aren’t computer science teachers that teachers first understand what computer science is so that then they can build that into their classroom curriculum.
Can you describe how you’ve disrupted inequities in your classroom?
As an educator, as a black female, Ph.D. in computer science, my disruption starts with education and passing on all of the mentoring that I received along the way that helped me get my Ph.D. in computer science. And I do that through questioning and providing spaces for teachers to play, create, collaborate, and become curious about items beyond their discipline, beyond what they teach.
How did you get involved in teaching computer science?
My path and journey to teaching computer science was a long and winded road. Fundamentally as a youth, I participated in a summer science program at Bell Labs where I was first introduced to computer science as a high school student, and then was encouraged and got hooked. I pursued a degree in computer science which eventually led me to pursue my Ph.D. in computer science. After finishing my Ph.D., I was at this crossroads, this nexus of do I work in industry, do I work in university, what do I do? It happened to be a .com bust and working in the industry that wasn’t super pulling at me but I was doing a lot of tutoring while in grad school so I decided to explore education. I eventually landed to the fact that I love working with middle school students and those were the kids I wanted to work with because that was the time when students were going to make those decisions about themselves as to whether they could do CS or math or engineering and I wanted to be that person that would encourage them and open doors of opportunity for CS to be a possibility in their lives as a career.
What does equity in CS mean to you?
Equity in CS means there is room at that the table for everyone to participate, to explore, and to be curious about what CS can be for them. For each person, that is going to be unique but it is definitely something that the future of computer science is for everyone. Equity in computer science education means that computer science is for everyone which means that everyone has a place in this world.
Why should others consider teaching computer science?
Computer science, despite all the myths out there, it is one of the more creative subjects that exists. It’s another way to allow your students to be creative in the classroom. It has so many ways, angles that students can enter this disciple, and teachers as well, that it really brings out the best in everyone. it definitely has ways of encouraging and developing creative thinking and frames of thought that carry over into many disciplines.