Shaunta Ford: Paving the way in computer science education
Applications open January 16, 2024, for Ohio STEM Learning Network’s and Code.org’s Computer Science Professional Learning.
These educators will be trained in teaching Code.org’s Computer Science Discoveries and Computer Science Principles courses. The Ohio STEM Learning Network will facilitate this comprehensive year-long training, specifically designed for middle and high school teachers.
Shaunta M. Ford stands out as a dedicated middle school computer science teacher in Berea City School District in Ohio. Shaunta has been a driving force in integrating technology and computer science into her classroom. Her recent participation in a summer computer science professional learning program has further enhanced her ability to inspire and educate young minds.
She wrote to us to share her journey.
It is with great honor to have been selected to serve as an OSLN Computer Science Ambassador. My experiences of having been a part of Code.org have been amazing.
As a middle school Computer Science teacher in a suburban district with little to no funding for Computer Science, we sometimes are left out when it comes to purchasing curriculum, classroom materials or being included as a team member as a whole. Code.org and my experience has really changed that for me and has benefited some of my department members as well.
My prior experience with Code.org was having my students participate in the Hour of Code every winter and choose the latest game/challenge that Code.org had to offer. Not only as a teacher, but also as a Computer Science teacher, the lack of coding that I was able to offer my students that were craving more was reaching to my core.
I knew what it was like to be the only girl in a computer class and always wanting a challenge either out of boredom or because I felt like I had something to prove. Either way, I knew how my students felt when I told them, I didn’t really have anything additional to offer them in terms of curriculum because we had to “move on.”
See, when I was in high school, in a small town in rural Ohio, I was the only girl that took a coding class and an AutoCAD drafting class. I was harassed almost daily by my classmates because I was the only girl. Little did those boys know that I would go to college and one day graduate with a degree in Media Production and three master’s degrees, all in education, two of which are technology focused. I thank those boys often because they drove me to be something I didn’t know that I wanted to be and made me strive to succeed.
I always challenge my students to think outside the box, challenge themselves, and try new things. With Code.org and my experiences working with the CS Discoveries program, I have been able to begin to develop a plan to integrate more technology and Computer Science curriculum into our course offerings. My plan will be to integrate the CS Discoveries program into a semester-long course that will be offered to 7th and 8th grade students in the coming school year.
Participating in the weeklong program that took place over the summer of 2023 not only opened my eyes to curriculum to help my students that was free, but I was also able to connect with countless colleagues across the State of Ohio whom are in similar positions with one common goal: to bring Computer Science to our students and give them the opportunity to succeed at something that could enhance their lives as well as their future!
The CS Discoveries program has been a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone that teaches Computer Science or has an interest in integrating some type of STEM into their classrooms as it not only enhances our tool belts as educators, but it could enrich the lives of our students and inspire them to do things they never thought possible.
Shaunta M. Ford
Middle School Computer Science Teacher
Berea City School District
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