Meet 2019-20 CSTA Equity Fellow Shana White.
In today’s CSTA Equity Fellow Spotlight, we’d like you to meet Shana White, a CS Teacher at Sweetwater Middle School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Shana is partnering with fellow CSTA Equity Fellow Michelle G. Lee to develop a K-8 curriculum that is anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-patriarchy, and pro-LGBTQ+ based on CSTA Educator and K-12 CS student standards. We’ll meet Michelle next week and learn more about their project later this month.
Five Questions with Shana White
What do you hope to achieve as a CSTA Equity Fellow?
My big project, or goal, is to build an open-source, culturally relevant curriculum for middle school. I want teachers to have access to lessons that are culturally relevant that kids will want to take, that they’ll want to do, that they’ll want to participate with, that also pushes CS into their classrooms and gives them an opportunity to engage in computational thinking.
Can you describe how you’ve disrupted inequities in your classroom?
Oh man, how long do we have here? In a number of ways, the big thing is being an advocate; also passing the mic I think is very huge. Making sure that I’m elevating students’ voices and amplifying their voices to make sure they’re being heard. I think in other big ways, I’ve always allowed students to be their full selves in my classroom. Identity is important to me and kids feel safe and comfortable in my classroom so to make sure I honor and respect all identities, all races, all ethnicities, gender, non-gender conformity, anything a student would like to share. They know that they’re comfortable and they’re welcome to share that in my classroom and they’re comfortable to be who they are. I think that’s huge if a kid knows they can be who they want to be in the classroom; they’re more likely and apt to be successful.
How did you get involved in teaching computer science?
It was a freak accident. I had been a health and physical education teacher for most of my career and I wanted to better meet the needs of some of my students in my health and physical education classes, so I got engaged in technology and eventually, teachers started following my lead. I got selected to be the technology coordinator for my school building and through that opportunity, I started to dive into Raspberry Pi and Code.org and was selected for facilitators for those types of events, and since then I haven’t stopped. It’s been all CS since that time. I still have a love for PE and health and always will because that was my first teaching job and my longest teaching job but I enjoy CS and STEM a lot more.
What does equity in CS mean to you?
Equity in CS means that each student is considered to get the access that they need and the opportunity that they need to be successful in computer science.
Why should others consider teaching computer science?
Because it’s cool. Just because computer science is shaping our world every millisecond of the day and people who don’t have knowledge of it are going to be left behind. Everyone talks about 21st-century learners, and if you don’t have any background or understanding of computer science, the next century is going to be a struggle for you. So computer science is the way that exists, it’s not going away. It continues to get bigger and bigger and harder and more complicated, so learning it now will probably be the best to do.