Each month this year, we will be highlighting one member of the CS for All Teachers community.
Name: Art Lopez
Occupation: AP Computer Science Principles Teacher
Workplace: Sweetwater High School and the Sweetwater Union High School District
Years in education: 30
Years teaching computer science: 6
What is your background in computer science?
I learned from my colleagues at Computer Science: Creating a Village for Educators (CS-CaVE), specifically Dr. Beth Simon of the University of California, San Diego. She provided the professional development workshops, training, and curriculum for teaching CSP within the county of San Diego. I teach AP Computer Science Principles (CSP); serve as the district curriculum specialist for computer science; am a member of CS-CaVE, a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded group for advancing computer science education in southern California; serve on the California Teacher’s Advisory Council for the California Council of Science and Technology (CalTAC), and I represent CS in all kinds of venues. I am an AP summer institute instructor for AP CSP, wrote one of four national course planning and pacing guides for the AP CSP course, and also help develop and write professional development materials for the College Board. I also am a national advocate for CS education, equity access, and broadening participation, speaking at numerous conferences including the College Board’s national forums, the Preparate Latino conference, and the American Education Research Association (AERA). In 2014, I was recognized by the White House as one of the top 100 CS educators in the country. Last, but not least, I have worked for the CS for All Teachers Community, appearing on panels and webinars in regards to equity access and broadening participation for computer science.
Describe the most favorite CS project you have completed with your students.
I love the Create performance task. It is amazing to see the creativity that students use to develop their own programs!
As teachers, we try every day to inspire our students. When have you been inspired by your students?
I am inspired by my students every day. Many of them do not have a background in computing and struggle with the course concepts. What is truly inspirational is seeing them rise to the challenge of solving a computing problem, collaborating and working together, persevering after several failing attempts at solving the problem, and experiencing pure joy when they are successful! That is amazing, and I am a grateful to be present during the learning process.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I am most proud of being recognized for my efforts by the White House, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the College Board in providing equity access and broadening of participation for computer science education for Sweetwater High School and the Sweetwater Union High School District. Also, I loved watching two of my students present at the White House CS for All Summit in September 2016.
What excites you most about the current state of computer science education in the US?
I am most excited that the landscape is changing and truly advancing in public education for the benefit of all of our children across the country. What I find remarkable is computer science education at large, and people of so many differing backgrounds coming together, united to provide all kids the opportunity to be exposed to and learn about computer science. And this is all due in large part to Dr. Jan Cuny of NSF, who is a huge advocate for computer science education. She had the vision and perseverance to change the landscape of education by pointing out the problems with the lack of computer science, equity access, and broadening participation for underrepresented groups, such as women and ethnically diverse populations. Jan has inspired so many of us.
What is your favorite CS tool or resource?
Well, that is really hard to choose! There are so many wonderful CS tools and resources. I really like using Alice 2.4 and 3, as well as www.pencilcode.net. Both of these programming platforms really help students with no or little computing background understand difficult and abstract concepts of computer science. They have also helped me gained knowledge in an area for which I did not have a background.
What do you do to recharge when times are rough?
I like to spend time with my family and friends, exercise by walking/running, and read a good book that disengages me from CS!
What are you reading right now?
I am reading “Leviathan Wakes” by James S.A. Corey. Some of my students recommended the book and it is really cool. The TV series, The Expanse, is based upon the book. I also started reading “Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better” by Louis Gomez and others. Louis Gomez was the keynote speaker at the recent NSF/CISE conference.
What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?
I love the great ideas that come out of the community for CS education, including AP CSP and ECS! It is really cool to have so many people participating to help each other improve and better their abilities to teach CS to our kids.