Posted by Mark Godinez on Sep 21, 2022

Mark Godinez headshot

Full Story

NCWIT Aspirations Logo My name is Mark Godinez, and I am a 2022 National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT) National Aspirations in Computing Educator Award Winner. My journey with IT started when I attended one Foundations training. After the training, I worked with my principal to bring the Computer Science Principles class into our school. I am now the Lead Teacher of IT for South Dade Senior High. I teach Digital Information, Game Foundation and Design, and Computer Science Principles. I also teach for the Title I Migrant Education Program after school with Middle school students. I had zero female students in my classes in my first year of teaching IT. I needed help with strategies and ideas to recruit more female students into my IT courses. I met Josie Goytisolo, founder of Codella who introduced me to the National Center for Women & IT. Through NCWIT, I learned the power of building partnerships to expand opportunities in my school and community.
By my second year of teaching IT, my female participation percentage rose to fifty percent in my AP course, and my school received the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award. My success in providing more opportunities to marginalized populations in IT programs is thanks to all the partnerships I have established. I am a founding member of the Miami CSTA chapter and served as Chapter Secretary for two years. I built relationships with Codella, Miami Ed Tech, Code Art Miami, Engineering Tomorrow, Deaf Kids Code, and Microsoft Teals through networking. These organizations have provided opportunities to my female students that I could not do alone. Having industry professionals in my classroom has enhanced my IT programs allowing my students to be mentored by Industry leaders. I also volunteer for ReGenerate Tech as a Metaverse Coach. We currently have female students involved in a Metaverse Professional Learning Community. Students have a pair of Magic Leap Virtual headsets to work within the development and exploration of the Metaverse. This year we are starting a Computer Science Honor Society through CSTA in my school. I plan to promote academic and service excellence with this addition. 
One important aspect of building partnerships that my female and non-binary students have had success in is with making in-person visits to local middle and elementary schools and introducing young students to IT and Engineering. They mentor younger students in middle school and recruit students into IT and Engineering Magnet programs of study.  Last year my school was a recipient of a grant that allowed us to participate in First Robotics. Thanks to the partnership with our Robotics Coach Mr. Shawn Waring, students in our school and community are exposed and can compete in First Robotics competitions. I feel my CS journey has been amplified through my participation in the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC) program. My students are encouraged and motivated to make a real difference in bringing more students into IT and Engineering in our rural community. The Aspirations in Computing program has allowed my students to flourish. I encourage all CS teachers to participate. I love reading the essays the students write about their own personal journeys in computer science and the success they have accomplished despite any barriers.
I encourage you to invite your 9th-12th grade young women, genderqueer, or non-binary students to apply for the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. This award honors students for their computing-related achievements and interests and encourages them to pursue their passions. This year, applications open on September 1st, 2022, and close on October 20th, 2022. Not only do you support your students when you endorse their application, but you also become eligible to apply for the NCWIT AiC Educator Award. This award has opened new opportunities for myself and my students. Remember the power of building partnerships for your school and programs. I always use the motto “you are never alone,” as you build a network of professionals and organizations that help build your IT programs in the school and community.

Student Perspective 

My name is Keira Faddis, and I am a high school junior. In 2020, I struggled to find where I might fit in while applying to high schools. I knew I wanted to do something others would be surprised to hear about, so I decided to try computer science. Coming into my freshman year as one of the only girls in my class was intimidating. I knew that I didn’t know as much as most of the boys in my class, and I also knew that I needed to work extra hard to be as good as I could be. During class, we worked on different projects, and we even began making our own video games. After taking my first computer class at school, my teacher, Mr. Godinez, advised me to apply for the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing award. I thought my chances of winning were slim, but I applied anyway. I was awarded an Aspirations in Computing Rising Star award in 2021 and then again in 2022.
Before taking computer science classes, I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career. I’ve never felt like I was good at anything I tried. Some days, I still feel the same about computer science, but it helps to look back and see that I have been recognized for the work I have put into it. I know I still have so much to learn, but I hope to inspire other girls to work towards their goals and help close the gap between men and women in technology.

About the Author

Mark Godinez HeadshotMark Godinez is an AP Computer Science Principles Teacher at South Dade Senior High. He also teaches a VR Unity Coding class. Godinez works part-time for the Migrant Education Title 1 Program after-school program. He works with female students from 2nd grade to 12th grade. Godinez wants to inspire as many students as he can into STEM fields of study.