Meet 2019-20 CSTA Equity Fellow Noelle Valentine.
Today, we introduce you to our final CSTA Equity Fellow, Noelle Valentine. Noelle is a CTE Teacher at Susitna Valley Jr/Sr High School in Talkeetna, Alaska, and is the inaugural President of CSTA Top of the World. She’s working to create “CS Playground” a teacher professional development course to be taught through the University of Alaska Anchorage. The course, offered to CS educators in the Matanuska Susitna Borough School District, alternated equity discussions and coding projects. We’ll learn more from Noelle next week.
Five Questions with Noelle Valentine
What do you hope to achieve as a CSTA Equity Fellow?
I’m in a really unique position as a member of the brand new CSTA Top of the World Chapter in Alaska. Our interest in computer science has been growing exponentially over the past few years, including pathway development and bringing new classes and trainings. My hope is that through this fellowship that I can add one more program to our already awesome list of opportunities that we have for teachers and students in our state.
Can you describe how you’ve disrupted inequities in your classroom?
I’m a really big supporter of the Girls Who Code program, we got that going at the district level with some summer camps and we’re reaching between 80 and 90 girls through these camps. When we brought that back to the school level, I’ve been able to have 15 to 20 girls all coding together and helping their communities with their projects.
How did you get involved in teaching computer science?
I went back to my hometown of Talkeetna, Alaska after I graduated college and took the only teaching job that was available which was actually home economics. That was not a good fit for me whatsoever, so I started pursuing computer science classes and trying to push them through our district curriculum council to kind of get the ball rolling on CS.
What does equity in CS mean to you?
Equity in CS, to me, means taking away the barriers that stop the kids from taking the class and also providing more opportunities to reach kids who wouldn’t necessarily sign up for those classes.
Why should others consider teaching computer science?
As someone who trained to be an English teacher and is now a computer science teacher, honestly, it’s just a blast. I’m having so much fun and I can’t imagine not teaching computer science now that I’m kind of in the content. Especially if you’re a person who really likes puzzles, that’s something that really appeals to me and really appeals to kids. Puzzles and games and it’s just a side of education that you wouldn’t see if you were teaching out of a textbook all of the time.