By: Justine Chavez-Crespin

The Four Corners region, encompassing the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico, is a unique and culturally rich area in the southwestern United States. While the region is renowned for its stunning landscapes, Native American heritage, and outdoor recreational opportunities, it is also embracing the importance of computer science education to prepare its residents for the digital age. 

Computer science education has become increasingly vital in today’s world, with technology playing a pivotal role in various aspects of our lives. In the Four Corners region, schools and educational institutions have recognized the importance of incorporating computer science into their curriculum to equip students with the skills needed for the future job market.

Despite the widespread acknowledgment of the significance of computer science, the region faces certain challenges, including limited resources, rural isolation, and a need for specialized training for educators. However, various initiatives are underway to address these challenges and promote computer science education as an integral part of the educational landscape in the Four Corners.

Acknowledging the crucial demand for well-trained educators, various initiatives are currently in progress to offer professional development opportunities for teachers in the Four Corners region. These efforts encompass workshops, training sessions, and collaborations with educational organizations, all geared towards improving educators’ skills in integrating computer science into their classrooms.

In my experience as a facilitator and participant, there was a heartbeat of the Four Corners Computer Science Convening that resonates with a genuine desire to honor and uplift the rich cultural tapestry of Native American and Hispanic communities. It is a symphony where technology harmonizes with tradition, and where the keys to success are not just bits and bytes but the profound understanding of history, heritage, and identity.

As we delve into workshops and discussions during the convening, it’s not just about algorithms and coding languages. It’s about crafting an educational experience that aligns with the pulse of Four Corner cultures. It’s about creating a space where knowledge is not a foreign concept but a bridge to future possibilities that respects and incorporates the wisdom passed down through generations.

The generosity in covering registration, food, and lodging costs is not just a logistical detail; it’s a gesture that speaks volumes. It says, “Your presence matters, your dedication is valued, and your contribution is essential.” By removing financial barriers, the convening becomes a beacon of inclusivity, inviting every passionate educator and administrator to be part of this transformative moment.

In the face of rapidly advancing technology, the significance of computer science education cannot be emphasized enough. To address this need for inclusivity and the expansion of computer science education, the Four Corners Computer Science Convening is scheduled to occur from June 2024, in Durango, Colorado. A complimentary professional development event is specifically designed for educators and administrators working with Native American and hispanic students in grades K-12.

The Four Corners Computer Science Convening is made possible through a collaborative effort with key partners who share the commitment to advancing computer science education. These partners include industry giants like Google, organizations such as Natives in Tech, Indigitize CS, AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society), CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association), and CS Alliance, as well as educational authorities like NMPED (New Mexico Public Education Department), AZDoE (Arizona Department of Education), CO CoE (Colorado Department of Education), and USBOE (United States Bureau of Education).

This unique collaboration brings together a diverse range of perspectives, expertise, and resources to address the specific needs and challenges faced by Native American students in accessing quality computer science education.

The heart of the Four Corners Computer Science Convening lies in its dedication to addressing the educational needs of Native American students. The event aims to empower educators and administrators who work directly with Native American communities by providing them with valuable tools, strategies, and insights to expand and enhance computer science education.

Throughout the convening, participants will engage in discussions, workshops, and hands-on activities that focus on culturally relevant and inclusive approaches to teaching computer science. This ensures that the content presented is not only educational but also resonates with the unique cultural backgrounds of the students.

To encourage widespread participation, the organizers are covering the costs of registration, food, and lodging for attendees and even helped attendees in their request to bring multigenerational family members since they were the primary caregivers but also wanted to figure out a way to participate. This commitment to help attendees on multiple levels reflects the dedication to making the event accessible to all educators and administrators who are passionate about advancing computer science education for Native American students. By removing financial and logistical barriers, the Four Corners Computer Science Convening opens its doors to a diverse audience, fostering a rich exchange of ideas and experiences. For more than half of the attendees, it was their first time being able to attend a CS education related event, thus showing how important it was to bring the event to the targeted area of need.
Through the collaborative efforts of esteemed partners and a focus on inclusivity, this event seeks to empower attendees with the knowledge and resources needed to unlock new opportunities for Native American students in the rapidly evolving world.  Come join me at the Four Corners Computer Science Convening in June 2024 it is a transformative experience for educators and administrators committed to advancing computer science education in Native American communities.

About the Author

Head Shot Justine Chavez

Justine Chavez-Crespin is currently the Digital Learning Innovation Coordinator for Santa Fe Public Schools. She provides instructional support to CS teachers as well as coaches, co-teaches with, and facilitates hands-on professional development for Pre-K to 12th-grade teachers. She has been an educator for the last decade. Her passion and life’s work is around supporting the youth of New Mexico in educational opportunities and future ready skills. She holds two BA, one in Communication Studies and the other in Spanish Linguistics and she has an MA in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University. Justine is also an ISTE Certified Educator.

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