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Board of Directors Election Bios 2017
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K-8 Representative Nominees

Mellissa Sanchez

My mission as an educator is to inspire students to connect with their passion, equip them with tools to create new knowledge, and encourage them to use this knowledge to contribute to our world in a meaningful way. No matter what field of study our students choose, a strong understanding of computer science (CS) concepts and skills will be necessary for them to successfully navigate complex problems and collaborate with others to develop innovative solutions. I am a strong candidate for the K–8 CSTA Board Representative position because I recognize the responsibility all teachers have to teach CS concepts and skills in the primary and intermediate grades. I have effectively integrated CS concepts into my instruction and this experience will help me be a powerful advocate for other CS teachers.

What experiences and/or interests in K–12 CS/information technology (IT) education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
I am an elementary librarian and I am passionate about exposing students to CS concepts and skills at a young age. I teach grades K–5 and reach every student in the school every week. I sponsor the school’s coding and robotics clubs and have established a makerspace in our library where students work with littleBits, Hummingbird Duo kits, Makey Makeys, Snap Circuits, Spheros, Bee Bots, and more. I have conducted coding & robotics workshops locally and internationally, with the support of industry partners, and provided professional development on a regular basis for district librarians across the state.

What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
I attended the 2015 and 2016 CSTA conferences. At the 2016 conference I presented a Birds of a Feather session on CS Learning Centers in the Elementary Classroom. 

What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
I have over 13 years of leadership experience having served as an officer in the United States Air Force, a Team Leader on a K–5 public school campus, a Standards Board Committee Member for a national sorority, and an Academic Advisory Committee Member for a school district with over 75,000 students. As a leader in K–12, university, and community settings, I have demonstrated the ability to collaborate with diverse counterparts, communicate effectively, and inspire others to accomplish organizational goals. These leadership skills are essential in advancing the mission of CSTA and my experiences will support key CS initiatives. 

What do you think are the most important issues for K–12 CS education?Advocacy, access, equity, and professional development are the most important issues for K–12 CS education. Information on the importance of this subject is needed across all states and districts. All students need access to CS classes and special attention should be given to ensure equitable access to equipment and opportunities for advancement for our students within the CS fields. Finally, research-based professional development should be available to all teachers regardless of academic specialty. These areas combined provide our communities, schools, and staff the tools needed to equip our students for the future.

 

Vicky Sedgwick

I have been excited to see the expansion of CS into the K–8 learning space through the work of CSTA and initiatives, such as the Hour of Code, the K–12 CS Framework, and #CSforAll. I believe that in our world today, providing the opportunity for all K–8 students to learn and create with CS is just as important as teaching them the current core curriculum subjects. I feel that my experience with the CSTA standards, both in creating a curriculum for my students and in helping to revise the 2011 standards, combined with my advocacy for CS through conference presentations and my involvement with the #CSK8 bi­weekly Twitter chats makes me a strong candidate for K–8 Representative.  

What experiences and/or interests in K–12 CS/information technology (IT) education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
I wanted my students to do more than just learning to type and how to use productivity software in their technology classes, so in 2012, I added computer programming to the curriculum for my middle school students. After finding the 2011 CSTA K­–12 CS Standards, I expanded the curriculum to include additional CS concepts and added classes for my upper elementary students. Since 2015, all of my K–­8 students take CS classes for at least one ­quarter of the school year. I have advocated for CS by presenting on CS topics at technology events and conferences since 2013. 

What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
I served on the 2016 CSTA Standards Revision Task Force as a member of the K–­5 Standards team. I am currently a member of the K–­5 Standards team on the 2017 CSTA Standards Revision Task Force. I am also currently serving on the 2017 CSTA Conference Committee. Additionally, I am a member of the K­–8 Task Group and help to moderate bi­weekly #CSK8 Twitter chats and the CSTA K–­8 Community on Google+. I use the CSTA K­–12 standards when curating resources and creating CS lessons for my students.

What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
Working at a small school, with a very limited budget, I have learned how to be innovative in analyzing issues and finding and implementing solutions to problems under time and budget constraints. I can be counted on to persevere and get things done on time, as evidenced by my work on the CSTA Standards Revision Task Force. I communicate well and enjoy advocating for CS by presenting sessions and workshops at technology events and helping to moderate the bi­weekly #CSK8 Twitter chats. 

What do you think are the most important issues for K–12 CS education?
In my opinion, the most important issue facing K­–12 CS education today is the lack of trained teachers. We cannot possibly achieve CS for all if there are not teachers to teach it. There needs to be a way to train existing teachers to teach CS, especially at the elementary level. In elementary schools, the classroom teacher may teach all subjects and there needs to be a way for these teachers to become proficient at teaching CS and knowing how to evaluate and curate the best CS resources for their students.

 

9-12 Representative Nominees

Derek Babb

Years ago, I would have identified as a CS teacher. Today, I see myself as a CS teacher, recruiter, ambassador, and advocate. I really enjoy teaching CS and am impressed by the creative, innovative, and interesting work of students, but I have become more passionate about spreading CS to all schools and all students. The fact that a majority of students don’t have access to quality CS in their schools, the fact that many students who do have access to CS don’t see it as a place for them, is a tragedy that we need to fight. As a member of the CSTA board I would continue the important work of expanding CS, developing high-quality standards, and creating a community of teachers passionate about CS. 

What experiences and/or interests in K–12 CS/information technology (IT) education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
I have taught CS for 11 years with a variety of classes including computer repair, intro programming, CS Principles, Advanced Placement CS A, cyber security, and a capstone CS course. I have taught in suburban schools and currently in an urban magnet school. Additionally, I have taught CS Principles as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska–Omaha for the past year. My experiences give me a broad perspective on CS education. I have also written state and district CS standards and served as a writer of the K–12 CS Framework. 

What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
We founded a local CSTA chapter 5 years ago. I have been fortunate enough to serve as president of the chapter for two years and have served in other capacities too. I have attended national CSTA meetings and have been actively engaged with CSTA news, social media, and advocacy materials. As a state writer of CS standards, I relied heavily on the CSTA K–12 CS Standards document and have found resources like “Bugs in the System” and “Running on Empty” to be great tools for motivating the need for more CS in my school, district, and state. 

What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
Increasingly, I have found myself in the role of advising schools, teachers, and districts on adding or expanding their CS offerings. In my district, I have coached new CS teachers through their first year and recently, I talked with administrators from another district about how they might start and grow CS in their schools. I was a writer for the K–12 CS Framework and served as the team facilitator for the Data & Storage team. In all of these leadership roles, I have relied on my ability to work with people and bring a variety of needs and ideas together. 

What do you think are the most important issues for K–12 CS education?
There are two major issues facing CS education today. The first is the lack of exposure to CS for most students. Not knowing what CS is, and what a CS professional does, is keeping potential CS majors out of the profession. The second issue is the quality of education. CS is not dull, but many of our classes are. Students need to see CS as a tool to change the world, to make life better, and to solve challenging problems. This takes experienced, excited, qualified teachers and professional networks where teachers can go for advice, ideas, and inspiration.

 

Doug Bergman

I have had a single goal every day of my 20+ years of teaching:  to further the reach of CS. I have been active through numerous media in getting CS in front of people, including conference presentations, panel discussions, online discussions, interviews, BLOG posts, webinars, radio commercials, lectures, city council meetings, magazines, newspapers, and even TV.  I’ve seen and learned many things in my career as CS teacher and developed a high level of confidence in my beliefs and my skills as an educator—that merged with my passionate and energetic personality means I am capable, willing, able, determined, and excited to be at the forefront of one of the most powerful movements of recent education history. 

What experiences and/or interests in K–12 CS/information technology (IT) education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
I have created a 4-year high school CS program which has increased in enrollment every year since its inception. The percentage of females has increased by 30 percent. I’ve presented at regional, state, national, and international conferences. I’ve been honored with awards from NCWIT and Microsoft.  Numerous students in my program have been recognized nationally for their accomplishments. Project Based Learning (PBL) is something I belief in and am eager to help others see how PBL fits into CS education in new and creative ways, reaching students whom we have not before in ways we have not before. 

What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
I was one of the founding members of the South Carolina chapter of CSTA. During that year, I assumed the role of president and we increased enrollment tremendously and held several meetings (with speakers) which were broadcast live across the state.  I have attended multiple CSTA conferences, submitted several proposals for presentations, and also been honored to have presented in Grapevine, TX, two years ago. 

What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
I am incredibly passionate and energetic. I am far enough along in my career that I have tremendous amounts of confidence and experience, but yet young enough that I still have tremendous ambition and energy.  I am a product of public education K–16, yet I have worked in private education for 20+ years, so I understand both education systems in depth. I have lived and attended school in multiple countries and worked in schools both in the US and overseas. That unique background allows me to look at problems and opportunities in ways that others might not see.

What do you think are the most important issues for K–12 CS education?
PD for beginner teachers, PD for advanced teachers, a national honor society, award recognitions for students and faculty, opportunities for student leadership, regional workshops, connections in business, improving CS education at all levels including elementary, middle, high school, and high education, helping school develop internship relationships, speaker series, and even curriculum development. Let’s reach into schools around the country to find out and hear what is working in schools. This helps the US develop better CS programs with different types of pedagogies and learning environments—allowing us to reach additional different populations.

 

School District Representative Nominees

Daniel Moix

As a new CS teacher I felt like I was the only person in the world facing the challenges CS teachers face. The professional development opportunities, research reports, and contacts made available to me through CSTA helped me overcome many of those challenges. CSTA’s role in the coming years is increasingly critical as more states recognize the value of CS for all students and put in place policies which will impact our member teachers and their students. I’d like to do my part to ensure the viability and success of this organization so it can continue to support teachers old and new. 

What experiences and/or interests in K–12 CS/information technology (IT) education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
I’ve known since I was old enough to type that I wanted to spend my life “working with computers.” After earning a four-year degree in CS and working as a data manager for the state, I realized I was missing much of what I enjoyed about computing—sharing these tools and skills with others. Once an opportunity to teach CS became available, I took it. Through the alternative certification process, completing an education leadership graduate degree, and serving CSTA as a volunteer, I feel I’ve gained the skills and experiences that could benefit our organization. 

What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
I joined ACM in college and became a member of CSTA during its initial year. As a Leadership Cohort (now CSALT) member, I’ve broadened my network of CS educators and become a more effective advocate, including starting the Arkansas chapter. I’ve served on committees including the 2011 and 2016 Standards Revisions, the Assessment Landscape Committee, the CS Principles Summit, and the 2017 CSTA Conference. I’ve represented CSTA at conferences including SIGCSE and the Grace Hopper Celebration. 

What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
My biggest assets are the personal relationships that have grown from having worked with so many CSTA members and associates on past projects. Creativity, willingness to consider all possible solutions to a problem, and the ability to collaborate at a distance are also skills which I feel I could use to serve this organization. As a leader in my district, I mentor teachers who are new to CS. At the state level, I provide mentorship and professional development to teachers of all CS experience levels. Nationally, I have served on several committees including the K–12 CS Framework. 

What do you think are the most important issues for K–12 CS education?
Each district, state, and country faces a unique set of challenges, none of which can be tackled alone. First, we must identify and convey to others exactly what CS is and is not. AP, ECS, PLTW, code.org, and others all do this differently. Next, there must be a body of educators qualified to teach CS. Many states have no CS licensure area whatsoever. Without CS education programs, where will qualified candidates come from to obtain these licenses? Above all, we must work with district and school administrators to find an appropriate place within the curriculum to situate CS.

 

Bryan Twarek

Over the next few years, there will be a burgeoning number of CS educators, including many who are new to the field. The CSTA has a wonderful opportunity to act as their primary community and voice. I want to help the CSTA capitalize on this opportunity and provide meaningful professional development and connections for CS educators from across the world. I am excited to ask for your support in serving as the School District Member on the CSTA. I have the privilege of directing the expansion of CS education in San Francisco’s public schools, where we have committed to teaching all students from pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade. I believe my experience has prepared me to help support an even broader group of CS educators. 

What experiences and/or interests in K–12 CS/information technology (IT) education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
I manage PK–12 CS education for the San Francisco public schools (SFUSD), where I am working to expand rigorous, relevant, and engaging CS instruction to all students and all schools in the district. To this end, I oversee policy, curriculum development, and professional development. Additionally, I served as a writer and facilitator for the K–12 CS Framework (k12cs.org) and have acted as advisor to several CS research and curriculum development projects. I also train CS teachers of all levels, and I have taught CS at the middle school level. 

What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
I currently serve as a team lead for the CSTA K–12 CS Standards Revision Task Force, and I was a writer for the 2016 interim standards. In October, I represented the CSTA by presenting a workshop for primary educators at the Global Software Education Forum in Seoul, Korea. I have presented at CSTA conferences, and I am a proud member of the Golden Gate chapter of the CSTA. I would be excited and honored to further my involvement with the CSTA. 

What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
I am a hard worker who thrives with complex projects. I enjoy tackling large and sometimes nebulous problems, and I have experience creating compelling change in a complex system, as evidenced by my success in dramatically expanding CS instruction within the San Francisco Unified School District. I am also efficient, detailed-oriented, and an effective collaborator. I work with others to find or develop creative solutions and utilize our collective resources to accomplish goals. I believe I could help the CSTA achieve laudable goals and have a great time J

What do you think are the most important issues for K–12 CS education?
Expanding CS access is paramount to disrupting the inequitable access to the computing workforce and CS education. Schools have the opportunity to change this unfortunate reality by teaching CS to all children, beginning in the earliest grades. The CSTA can facilitate this by:

  • curating strong curricula and instructional resources,
  • directing and coordinating effective professional development for teachers of all backgrounds and abilities,
  • communicating relevant research and inclusive teaching practices,
  • sharing effective models for CS expansion,
  • creating advocacy resources to help convince various stakeholders and policymakers,
  • fostering community and resource sharing among CS teachers.

 

Teacher Education Representative Nominees

Lijun Ni

I am a computing education researcher and lecturer in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University at Albany, State University of New York. My research interest focuses on CS teacher preparation and professional development (PD). I am on a leadership team of creating a CS teacher preparation program at my institution. We have recently built the first online graduate certificate program in computing education in the State of New York. It’s been my passion for research and service to understand the needs of CS teachers and provide quality and ongoing support for teachers, since 2008. I wish to expand my advocate and passion in supporting CS teachers through serving as CSTA’s Teacher Education Representative. 

What experiences and/or interests in K–12 CS/information technology (IT) education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
I conducted my dissertation work on examining how to prepare and retain high school CS teachers, through the lens of teacher identity. I designed and implemented a three-year PD program with a major focus on promoting teacher reflection and community building. This program has successfully supported the development of local communities for CS teachers in Georgia, including the creation of the local CSTA chapter as well as developing both new and master CS teachers. Most recently, I’m working on a project that offers PD for middle school teachers to integrate computational thinking into existing curricular at two school districts. 

What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
I am deeply committed to the CSTA's mission of supporting CS education in K–12. My previous work and graduate study at GaTech had a major focus on training new teachers, developing master teachers, creating local communities of CS teachers, including supporting the creation of Georgia CSTA chapter, and building their chapter leaders. I have also served as a university supporter for the Capital District CSTA chapter (NY), which was recently created in March 2016. With my encouragement, my current academic department has recently joined the CSTA as an institutional member. 

What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
I serve on a steering committee for building a CS teacher preparation program at my institution, collaborating with colleagues from school of education, CS, and informatics departments. I had some experiences as a project manager, coordinating a group of researchers and teachers. I took some leadership role as a co-conference chair in organizing a local statewide conference on computing education. I also engage myself in teaching with students of a variety of backgrounds, including in-service teachers, CS majors, and educational graduate students. 

What do you think are the most important issues for K–12 CS education?
We are facing many challenges related to access, stereotypes, curriculum & standards, certification/licensure, teacher preparation, and PD, etc. We need to build a whole ecosystem for inclusive and engaging K–12 CS education. Fortunately, many great people have been working on these issues and we have made some significant progress in many of these aspects. One of the most exciting aspects about the growth of CS in K–12 education is the continued growth of a diverse community comprised of K–12 teachers, CS content providers, higher education institutions, and other supportive members of industry and government, school administrators, other non-profits, and parents. 

 

Jennifer Rosato

Every student in every school should be exposed to CS as part of their K–12 education—that is the heart of the CS for All movement. As the excitement around computing grows, we need to ensure no student and no school are left behind. As a professor, I have worked to develop pre-service and in-service CS teacher programs that embody those ideas. I strongly believe that CS for All starts by preparing teachers before they enter the classroom and by supporting them while they are in the classroom. I have worked collaboratively to lead professional development on Scratch, Lego Mindstorms, App Inventor, and Mobile CS Principles. All of these are infused with best practices for engaging students from diverse backgrounds and address issues of equity. 

What experiences and/or interests in K–12 CS/information technology (IT) education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
I led the creation of a graduate program in CS education for in-service teachers that includes four courses: Computational Thinking, CS Principles, Programming & Teaching with Java, CS Methods. I now oversee the certificate, including course development, recommending adjuncts, and teaching the methods course. I also co-lead a project to integrate CS in our teacher preparation programs, including the development of a CS Education minor for undergraduates. As our faculty learn more about CS, I will be coaching them in their development of course modules and training them to conduct observations of student teachers in field placements.

What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
I co-founded the CSTA Gopher State Chapter and have been the University Liaison since it started. I was also proud to be a member of the CS Advocacy Leadership Team (CSALT). I have used and integrated many of the valuable CSTA resources (standards, reports, and other publications) in PD offerings that I have developed and provided. 

What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
Just as all students should have access to a quality CS education, I believe that there are many stakeholders that should be a part of the conversation about K–12 CS. I strive to make connections between those stakeholders and help develop consensus among them. In my leadership roles at the college, on project teams, and with the CSTA Gopher State chapter, I work to make sure everyone’s voice is heard and a common understanding is developed. I will bring these leadership skills and my background knowledge in both CS and education to the CSTA Board. 

What do you think are the most important issues for K–12 CS education?
CS is a rapidly growing discipline at the K–12 level with many challenges in ensuring teachers are prepared to teach it effectively. How do we grow the number of highly qualified CS teachers in a way that can meet the demand? How do we make sure teachers have content knowledge as well as pedagogical content knowledge to teach a diverse student population? How do we help make sure quality curricula are readily available for easy adoption? And, finally, how do we make sure that all these components are sustainable and will become a lasting part of our educational system?

 

At-Large Representative Nominees

David Benedetto

We must broaden participation in CS to ensure that our children are informed citizens, are prepared to acquire living-wage careers, and can live productive, fulfilling lives. We don’t know what the future will hold, but we do know that computing will play a large role. I believe am a strong candidate because of my experiences which are discussed below. What makes me unique? I would say my broad range of interests and experiences. I am as interested in history and sociology as I am in science and math. This is reflected in my reading, in my academic pursuits, in the lessons I design for my students, and in my career path. 

What experiences and/or interests in K–12 CS/information technology (IT) education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
I work to expand CS education by forming partnerships such as our CS4NH coalition. This work gives me insight into the complexity of the problem. I am also a state leader for ECEP Alliance and a member of the National Advisory Committee for the upcoming national CS Praxis Exam. Prior to NHDOE, I established and coordinated a CS program at NH’s largest school, Pinkerton Academy. I earned my BS and MS in CS, and participated in research including bioinformatics, data visualization, and CS education. I hold a NH teaching certificate with endorsements in mathematics, physical science, and CS. 

What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
I am a member of CSTA NH chapter, attend board meetings, and participate in activities. I attended the leadership summit at the recent national CSTA conference in San Diego, as NH’s chapter representative. In NH, I also attend board meetings for other professional organizations (science, math, technology integrators, etc.). I am the liaison between these organizations to promote communication and collaboration. This work is beginning to pay off, as NH’s math, science, and CS associations are planning to hold a joint conference in 2018. 

What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
I work with many people with different beliefs, perspectives, and objectives. I need to truly listen to people and seek to understand them and incorporate their knowledge, but also remain focused and clear on our vision and mission. Those in the CSforAll movement understand the urgent need to move quickly, but the social structures in place are not built to rapidly adapt. This work requires patience and persistence. I make it a priority to stay healthy and happy. People respond to optimism and dedication, especially when balanced by a deep and realistic understanding of the challenges we face. 

What do you think are the most important issues for K–12 CS education?
Broadening participation, for the following reasons (among others): First, it is a civil rights issue. More than a small segment of the population should have the opportunity to learn critical CS/CT skills and access an array of living-wage careers, now and in the future. The purpose of public education is to ensure equity of opportunity. Second, it is an economic issue. NH and the broader nation will never achieve our workforce and economic development goals unless ALL students have access to K–12 learning opportunities that help mitigate the digital knowledge and skills divide.

 

Todd Lash

My affiliation with, participation in, and service to CSTA continues to be a transformative influence in my professional life. It is my wish to see CSTA continue to grow in its service, influence, and reputation as the preeminent organization to help meet the needs of new and established CS teachers, assist in the formation of policy, and advocate for CS education—locally, nationally, and internationally. The equitable proliferation of CS education in its own right, for economic reasons and for its ability to engender creativity and positive change across a myriad of educational domains, is an essential next step for our democracy regarding educational policy. I hope to be of greater service to that end with my nomination to this position. 

What experiences and/or interests in K–12 CS/information technology (IT) education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
Four years ago, I brought CS education to my entire K–5 building as a teacher, librarian, and CS instructional coach. I served as a CS-education liaison to our university partners, presented at school board meetings, and have given numerous professional development sessions in multiple school districts. I have presented at multiple conferences on various CS topics, I’m a Code.org facilitator, and currently a graduate research assistant in Special Education at the University of Illinois working on an NSF grant to create integrated learning trajectories in CS and math. I am also a K–12 CS Framework writer. 

What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
I have been an active leader on the CSTA K–8 taskforce for the last three years, moderating and participating in growing our social media presence. I have attended multiple CSTA conferences and will be presenting three sessions at the conference this summer. I am also the K–5 lead writer on the CSTA Standards Revision team, which has allowed me the great pleasure of regularly interacting with CSTA leadership. 

What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
Those that know me would say that I have tremendous energy, drive, and enthusiasm. I am a people person and easily work with all type of personalities. My work on the K–12 CS Framework is a testament to that. I have successfully lead a school transformation, as noted above, and it is my great pleasure and honor to lead the CSTA K–5 Standards Revision team. Most of all, I am a learner as evidenced by my decision to return to school as a full-time doctoral student at 45.

What do you think are the most important issues for K–12 CS education?
Equitable access is the most important issue for K–12 CS education currently. While we have made great strides as a community, due much to the efforts of the CSTA, we have far to go. Within that challenge, there are others, including how best to prepare current and pre-service teachers, the development of research-based pedagogy for CS education, and continuing to build bridges to policy makers. To do this, we, as a community, must find a way for to unite the various players and factions in the CS education community for the betterment of all.

 

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