“Becoming a teacher has been one of my best decisions in my life,” said CSTA Equity Fellow Pradip Misra, a teacher at Bagdad High/Middle School in Bagdad, Arizona.
“Becoming a teacher has been one of my best decisions in my life,” said CSTA Equity Fellow Pradip Misra, a teacher at Bagdad High/Middle School in Bagdad, Arizona. “Every day trying new things in my classroom, understanding the problems of my students, and communicating with community members, fellow teachers, and administrators to make our students successful makes me feel that a teacher can bring so many smiles in society.”
Misra defines equity as when students from every section of society are represented adequately. “During my career of more than 15 years, I have seen extreme talents among students from underrepresented sections and that makes me think that are we really heading in the direction of equity? I think we have made progress but it is not enough.”
When Misra travels to local universities and colleges, he sees that diversity is not enough. Misra works in a remote corner of rural Arizona, and recognizes the opportunities for his low-income, minority, and female students are rare.
“Most of the students and their families feel that computer science is for city students and also for those who already have a high educational family background or have enough family to pay for college,” shared Misra. “Many of my students come from low-income families and have agricultural and mining backgrounds. For them, the most immediate concern is to earn money and they believe that they need to get trained in various trades as quickly as possible because that will give them money right after high school.”
To dispel the notion that computer science is for city kids, Misra showcases how computer science can empower Hispanic, Black, Native American, female and low-income students more in their careers, society, and their life. “I started an after-school computer science club for my underrepresented students and when they realized that they are doing excellent in it, they started doing their computer science classes.”
Misra’s school did not have computer science classes eight years ago, and they now have a computer science class of 30 students. This results from Misra’s growth of the computer science club at his school. These students are female, low-income, Hispanic, Black, ELL, and those with learning disabilities. Misra plans trips to companies where his students can see professionals from their community.
“I have a firm belief that if you want to achieve something, you have to take initiative,” he shared. “I have proven that by hard work and determination, we can achieve anything, including bringing equity in computer science education.”
Misra applied to become a CSTA Equity Fellow to expand his ability to collaborate with his fellow teachers. Opportunities to learn are very rare in his community, and the nearest town is over 70 miles away. The largest city for professional development is 130 miles away. While he receives professional training from large companies, he believes being a part of the fellowship can bring tremendous change to his community.
“I have a firm belief that I will learn from my fellow educators and experts from across the country which will increase my understanding of the problems being faced by my fellow teachers in different parts of the country,” shared Misra. “I have my own share of learning experience and knowledge that I would like to share in this program. I believe that learning and sharing are what make a community strong and successful. In tough times like COVID-19, we need to collaborate, share and learn to bring everyone in computer science and make all our students succeed in their learning and future.”
As a teacher, Misra strongly believes that the education system’s future depends on collaboration, innovation, and networking to promote new ideas and new methodologies in computer science education.
“Today I am a better teacher because I have learned from everyone, like my fellow teachers, college students, community members, and online groups on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin,” shared Misra. “I believe that learning is a lifelong process and there is never an end to learning. When I learn, I share my experience with my fellow teachers everywhere, and I want my professional community to grow to increase the participation of underrepresented communities in computer science.”