Candyce Monroe is the Director of Learning at Ed Farm, an education technology nonprofit organization headquartered in Birmingham, AL. In that role, Candyce develops learning experiences for students and educators alike, all designed to infuse creativity and innovation into the computer science learning process. Candyce began her career as an educator by teaching science in a Birmingham school district, where she was instrumental in creating the district’s computer science program. Determined to provide high-quality computer science lessons for her students, Candyce secured over $50,000 in grants to fund the new CS program and even launch a makerspace for STEM learning.
Candyce’s work with Ed Farm reaches students and teachers across four states and six school districts, providing a computer science–infused elective course to students and a CS-focused fellowship to interested teachers. The elective course, which aims to welcome in Black, Latinx, and female students, as well as those from rural and low socioeconomic status backgrounds, uses a challenge-based framework to help students identify and solve problems in their communities. Candyce notes that the course is “centered around four pillars: Engage, Investigate, Create, and Act. [It] focuses on collaboration, contextualized knowledge, critical thinking, community, and prediction.”
In alignment with learning standards from CSTA, ISTE, and state computer science standards, the course, Introduction to Innovation, introduces students to the Swift coding language and the basics of app design. Students are encouraged to collaborate with each other and with their community to design real-world solutions to real-world problems. Throughout the course, they advance their digital creation skills and grow confidence in their ability to change the world for the better. They round out the course with an “innovation portfolio,” showcasing the artifacts they’ve created along the way.
Helping students develop their CS identity is important, but Candyce also understands the importance of empowering educators with the tools and strategies they need to bring computer science to their classrooms. She co-designed an educator fellowship that offers professional learning opportunities and coaching cycles, all designed to “bring computer science and future-focused learning to all students.” Fellows become Apple Teacher Certified in iPad, MacBook, and the Swift programming language, design challenge-based lessons to suit their unique classroom contexts, and learn to use the Everyone Can Code and Everyone Can Create curricula to align digital skills and K–12 computer science learning standards. Candyce says, “Each cohort participates in celebrations of learning that engage their communities in the solutions they design and the computer science–based content they create.”
To further the goal of bridging the digital learning gap, Candyce works hard to form partnerships with key decision-makers at every level: local and state government officials, superintendents, and principals. She supports district-level initiatives to get relevant programs and devices to teachers and students who need them, and her organization offers CS curricula, professional development opportunities, and facilitation of coding clubs for K–12 students.
Candyce has dedicated her career to the belief that every child deserves access to high-quality computer science educational opportunities. As a classroom teacher, she advocated for a computer science program where none existed, attending school board meetings to lobby for funds to make it a reality. She also created STEAM nights to welcome community members into the CS learning experience alongside her students. Now, she says, “I am blessed to work for a company that envisions an inventive world where all people have access to everything they need to fill or create the jobs of the future.” Along with the rest of the Ed Farm team, she believes in the importance of diversity—“of culture, backgrounds, opinions, and abilities”—and the transformative power of collaboration.
Candyce can’t wait to tap into that collaborative power alongside her cohort of CSTA Equity Fellows. “I am looking for a space that fosters growth, peer reflection and accountability in a way that I will find personally rewarding and professionally fulfilling,” she says. She hopes to learn from the other Fellows’ experiences, build her network, and become an ever-stronger advocate for the CS education equity she believes in. She’s eager to design resources that can facilitate ongoing conversations and collaborations, create equity-focused spaces online and in the physical world, and empower teachers and students alike to develop real-world skills and solutions—all while honoring and celebrating the unique communities and contexts of every learner.
Candyce says, “I want my students to know that no matter their ethnicity, socioeconomic level, or gender, they are capable of thriving in a constantly evolving technological world as confident leaders of their own learning.” She’s excited to make the most of her time as a CSTA Equity Fellow.