It was 1999, and Dr. J. Philip East was talking with Chris Stephenson about computer science (CS) education for K-12 teachers. The annual SIGCSE conference, which is mostly attended by college and university CS educators, had just run.
It was 1999, and Dr. J. Philip East was talking with Chris Stephenson about computer science (CS) education for K-12 teachers. The annual SIGCSE conference, which is mostly attended by college and university CS educators, had just run. “We should do something like this for K-12 teachers,” Philip remembers remarking to Chris. That conversation helped lead to the first “Computer Science & Information Technology (CS&IT) Symposium”-the precursor of the CSTA Annual Conference-which was held in 2000 in Atlanta. The event was co-located with the National Education Computing Conference, or NECC (now known as ISTE). The CS&IT Symposia were funded by the ACM.
By 2004, Chris Stephenson had led the formation of CSTA. Philip recalls that in those days, “Chris was the boss, and she named the conference committee.” Philip always got named to the committee.
In those early years, the team would get together to plan a series of sessions, and then find people to lead them. As the “CSTA Annual Conference” matured, it developed the call-for-proposals and proposal review and selection process it now uses. With his attention to detail and gentle but firm guidance to reviewers, Dr. East gravitated to the Review Chair role. While others have done it certain years, Philip notes “that’s always where I’ve put my energy.” Philip also served as Program Chair for CSTA’s 2016 Annual Conference, which was held in San Diego, California.
Philip originally studied to be a math teacher, and after graduating taught junior high school math in Idaho for four years. He caught the computing bug in the late 1970s and enrolled in an innovative graduate program in CS Education at the University of Oregon. He earned his Master’s in CS Education in 1977 (awarded through Oregon’s CS department) and then a PhD in CS Education in 1984 (through its College of Education).
Dr. East was then hired as a professor in the CS department at the University of Northern Iowa in 1985, where he became a founding faculty member of its Master’s program in CS Education. While Iowa never completed its licensure process during that era, Dr. East taught CS pedagogy and curriculum courses and a variety of CS major courses at Northern Iowa ever since. Prior to retiring, he mostly taught Visual Basic to non-majors and a programming course for elementary teacher candidates.
Most recently, Dr. East became co-PI on an NSF researcher-practitioner partnership grant, “The Development of a Statewide Network for Teacher Preparation in Computer Science” (NSF award 1738784).
With this deep synergy between his career work and professional service, the CSTA Board of Directors is proud to announce Dr. J. Philip East as the recipient of the 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award. Congratulations, Philip!
Fred Martin is a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he is associate dean for student success in the Kennedy College of Sciences and professor of computer science. He joined the CSTA Board of Directors in 2014 and served as chair from 2017 to 2019.