CSEd Week Teacher Spotlight: Celeste Conflitti

December 08, 2020

CS Ed week is an annual event that aims to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science. All this week, we’ll be taking the opportunity to celebrate the contributions of some amazing K-12 teachers who are working to expand computer science learning in the schools and classrooms where they teach.

Celeste Conflitti

Celeste Conflitti
Engineering Pathway Teacher, Eastwood Academy High School Houston, TX

Tell us about yourself
As a veteran of 29 years in education, my passion is to inspire students to question the very essence of what education is. My career spans teaching most of the sciences. To do so, I embrace project-based learning, formative assessment, and class management strategies, which allow me to provide a strong, equitable, comprehensive education to my students. I possess multiple degrees, including two masters, one in Special Education, Learning Disorder and the other in Educational Leadership-Principal. Learning is a fundamental component of my DNA.

Why did you go into teaching?
My personal belief is that education sees no color, religion or cultural differences. I wanted to inspire students to be curious about the world, question the “how” and “why,” and dream beyond the "box". My greatest accomplishments are not based upon a grade but the ability for my students to synthesize and articulate their thoughts in a manner that demonstrates learning.

Why is it important to teach your students computer science?
Society is changing at a lightning speed. The one element that gives us even the smallest opportunity to stay ahead of the game is technology. Computer science - coding- the art of creating and making - all yield results that will have a direct connection to the betterment of mankind. This education is preparing our students to expand, explore and create beyond the classroom.

How do you integrate computer science and making into your classroom?
Wow! First, Pathfinders energized me more than any other professional development I have ever attended. When a teacher reignites or discovers a new path of excitement (like I did), the overwhelming desire to share that with your students is unfathomable. Isn't that what the essence of teaching is – sharing your knowledge and gifting what you know so others can learn it too? Inspirational!! Currently, I am gearing up to launch Firia Labs Micro:bit Jumpstart into a virtual classroom with my seniors. Additionally, I use software that allows my students to demonstrate their understanding by creating and testing their designs within a virtual world.

This year’s theme for CS Ed Week is #CSforSocialJustice. What does that theme mean to you?
What is Social justice: equal rights, equal opportunity and equal treatment afforded to every student no matter what school district or building they attend. It is a commitment to provide a classroom environment where each student is provided with the resources necessary to be successful. My classroom’s use of technology is built upon ethics, diversity and the conscious recognition that technology is directly linked to shaping the world at large. It provides a mechanism for the abstract to become concrete, it challenges educators to promote underrepresented students to explore science, technology and engineering pathways. Social justice is a movement that will rewrite the educational expectations to those geared towards an ever-changing planet. Personally, to me as an educator, I must strive to remove the barriers and thus allow students to be inspired, challenged and encouraged to express who they are with pride!

Anything else you want to share?
One is never too old to learn themselves, this was obvious as I was afraid to take the Pathfinders Winter Institute professional development class as an older teacher who never considered learning Python and had no clue what a micro:bit was. Fear took over along with massive anxiety. I was literally walking in my students’ shoes, and then the micro:bit flashed a "heart;" I had written my first program! The elation was incredible, and I knew my students were proud of me for it was them who gave me the courage to do as I always tell them, "step out of your box and do it." Now it is their turn to do it!!