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|Darcy Benoit Candidate Statement|
UNIVERSITY FACULTY REPRESENTATIVE
Darcy G. Benoit
My motivation for this position is my desire to ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn computing in the public school system. My experience over the past several years includes leading a team to run several local events for international outreach programs – FIRST Lego League, Robofest, Hour of Code, etc – with the hopes of exposing more children to computing ideas in the classroom. I recognize that computer programming is a multiplier – it multiplies the advances in all fields where it is applied – and it is important that all students have the opportunity to have their educational experience enhanced. As a member of the executive of the Canadian Association of Computer Science, I promote Computer Science nationally, and believe in the importance of Computer Science for our future.
WHAT EXPERIENCES AND/OR INTERESTS IN K-12 COMPUTER SCIENCE/INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION QUALIFY YOU TO SERVE AS A LEADER FOR THE ORGANIZATION?
I have been interested in computer science education for a long time. One of my motivations for choosing a small, primarily undergraduate university was so that I could meaningfully participate in undergraduate teaching. My teaching workload includes not only core computer science topics such as first year programming, but also service classes that allow me to interact with students not in the field. These classes give me perspective as to why students select (or avoid) computer science as a major, and the gaps that exist in their knowledge of fundamental computing ideas.
WHAT PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE WITH CSTA?
I have been involved in CSTA events for the past three years, although I have only been a member for the past year. I have run Hour of Code events locally for the past three years, including two years of public events, and visits to local schools for this past year. Previous to this, I had organized a coding event focused specifically for teenaged girls, and was involved in several coding camps at my local university. I currently have an application pending to create a province-wide CSTA branch in Nova Scotia, Canada.
WHAT LEADERSHIP SKILLS DO YOU HAVE THAT WOULD ENRICH THE BOARD AND THE ORGANIZATION?
I have extensive experience with university committees both at the faculty and university level, and I am involved in several province-wide and national organizations at the executive level. I am passionate about computer science education, and have published several papers on teaching at the university level. I have worked with the provincial Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to revise computer science curriculum at the high school level, and continue to champion computer science education at all levels in the school system.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES FOR K-12 COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION?I believe the most significant issue for K-12 computer science education is educating current and new teachers of the importance of computer science for all students. This includes the students who will become biologists, English majors and business students, as computers are going to daily touch their lives and work. We know that passionate teachers at the high school level can change how a student thinks about a subject. Until we have passionate computer science teachers – and supportive, understanding teachers from other disciplines – we will have a shortage of computer science students.