What Makes a Great Computer Science Teacher?
July 20, 2023
For the past seven years Infosys Foundation USA and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) have honored dynamic computer science teachers nationwide with the CS Teaching Excellence Awards. Each year, these teachers not only raise the bar higher and higher, but also astound us with their boundless creativity and unwavering dedication. We are honored to share with you the exemplary characteristics that impressed us from this year’s winners.
Steadfast Enthusiasm: Keeping students actively engaged throughout the academic year in subjects as complex as computer science is an incredibly difficult task that requires an educator with special skills and a willingness to go above and beyond. One shining example is Matt Alonzo, one of this year’s CS Teaching Excellence winners, who demonstrated unwavering enthusiasm and passion by single-handedly expanding his school’s CS program in St Louis, MO. His philosophy is “If they won’t come to me, then I’ll go to them.” Similarly, Carla Neely, another recipient of the award, has dedicated more than 24 years to her students and focused on expanding computer science into underrepresented communities, particularly black students in urban Ohio areas. Carla’s students took their enthusiasm a step further and established “Fros and Codes”, their own club with original coding activities designed to encourage black students to engage with computer science.
CS Above and Beyond: The 2023 CS Teaching Excellence Awardees have excelled at creating space both within and outside the traditional classroom setting for their students to flourish. Keethan Kleiner, a high school educator from Durham, NC, developed a socially and culturally relevant curriculum to make computer science more appealing to students who come from underrepresented communities. Recognizing the importance of engaging with students and tailoring content to fit their needs, Keethan ensures his students are not only physically present in class but are also actively learning. Chantell Mason, a middle school computer science teacher in St. Louis, MO, recognizes that students need support and engagement beyond the classroom to grasp the intricacies of computer science. She accomplishes this through coaching her school’s Esports team and taking her classes to Raspberry Pi Jams where they showcase their Raspberry Pi and Micro:bit projects.
Collaborate and Listen: CS Teaching Excellence Winners serve as examples of the impact that can be achieved when educators foster communities that share and inspire new ideas. Melissa Zeitz, a recipient of the 2023 award and President of CSTA for the Western Massachusetts region, is proud to share the invaluable insight and expertise she gained from 22 years of teaching with her fellow peer educators. Another exceptional awardee, Paige Besthoff, actively engages in promoting CS education at the state and national level, by hosting a “Family Code and Robotics night; serving as the CSTA NJ Chapter Secretary, as a CS K-5 Conference Subcommittee member, and as a Code.org facilitator, to name just a few. These educators not only stand out as leaders in their classrooms, but also inspire their peers with their visionary approach to education.
We’d like to congratulate each of these outstanding educators who have raised the bar for what it means to deliver equitable computer science education. Join us in recognizing Jason Galbraith, Michelle Pierce, Daniel Sorge, Keethan Kleiner, Carla Neely, Chantell Mason, Paige Besthoff, Melissa Zeitz, Trevor Rabourn and Matt Alonzo. Thank you for your determination and resilience to expand computer science education to those who need it most. To learn more about these remarkable individuals, click here.
Infosys Foundation USA was established in 2015 with the mission of expanding computer science and maker education to K-12+ students and educators across the United States, with a specific focus on increasing access to digital skills within underrepresented communities. The Foundation achieves impact through the delivery of professional development programs for teachers, K16 digital skills learning platforms, partnerships with leading nonprofits, and innovative media campaigns that inspire everyone to be creators, not just consumers, of technology. For more information, visit infosys.org/USA.
CSTA’s mission is to empower, engage and advocate for K-12 computer science teachers worldwide. CSTA is a membership organization that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science and other computing disciplines. For more information, visit csteachers.org.