Each month, highlighting a member of the CS for All Teachers community
Name: Elaine Griggs
Occupation: High school math teacher who also teaches all CS classes
Workplace: Pembroke High School in Pembroke, MA
Years in education: 12 (I was a data analyst in biotech device industry prior to teaching)
Years teaching computer science: 12
TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE (CS)
What interests you about computer science?
I am interested because the kids are so engaged and appreciative.
How did you start teaching computer science? Do you have a background in CS?
I have been involved in software development since age 19. I participated in the research development and technical support teams for an infectious disease software called GIDEON in a microbiology lab in Sussex, England. As a data analyst, I developed databases for over-the-counter (OTC) and point-of-care (POC) device clinical trials. For many years, I did Basic programming on a phone bank, assisting a team to provide training, customer service, and technical service for many biotech devices.
How have your computer science students inspired you? What is your favorite CS project you have completed with them?
We have completed several mobile apps. One is called Hungry Hungry Helpers and supports local families in regard to food insecurity. Another more recent app helps those who have immigrated with their path toward citizenship. Both of these apps won the Congressional App Challenge. Also, I am very proud of my Botball teams in both Haverhill and Pembroke, as well as student teams that have competed internationally at the Global Conference for Educational Robotics (GCER) in Anneheim, CA; Norman, OK; and Palm Springs, CA. This year, on one Saturday each month, my BotBall team is coaching fourth- through sixth-graders in a Junior Botball program. We also have had success in ZERO robotics, an international competition sponsored by NASA, DARPA, and MIT. For several years, girls on Technovation teams I supported competed in start-up challenges with mobile app development. Right now, one team is working on a community information app for the LGBTQ community.
CS EDUCATION COMMUNITY
How do you get other teachers, administrators, and community members excited about computer science?
I get others engaged through participation in competitive programs that excite the students. Pembroke School District is very supportive of meaningful CS education for high school students. In this supportive environment, student acheivement is the important thing!
What excites you most about the current state of CS education in the US?
Continuing exciting programming, as well as developing curricula for high school students and their preparation for futures in CS.
What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?
The community of teachers in ECS, Mobile CSP, and AP CS-A.
Besides the CS for All Teachers community of practice, what is your favorite CS tool or resource?
Through my role as a national facilitator for ECS curriculum, I work with teachers all over the country, including Teach for America teachers who are amazing. I am extremely appreciative of that particular opportunity and team of national facilitators. Having Gail Chapman and Joanne Goode as mentors in this program has changed my teaching. Last year, I had the amazing experience of attending the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) conference, and have attended Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) conferences in the past. These opportunities have been very meaningful. Also, Scratch meetups are a favorite resource.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to potential CS educators?
Get involved with lots of CS teachers.
TELL US MORE!
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Developing student leaders. I was also awarded an inspiring educator award from MassCAN, for which I am also appreciative.
Write a poem or haiku describing what teaching CS is like.
Kids write kindness notes
Teaching computer science
Love that makes my days.
What do you do to recharge after a long day (or week, month, year, etc.) of teaching?
Yoga. Lots of yoga.