Each month this year, we will be highlighting one member of the CS for All Teachers community.
Name: Floresa Vaughn
Occupation: Teacher and facilitator for Code.org and ECS
Workplace: McClymonds High School, Oakland, CA
Years in education: 8
Years teaching computer science: 4
What is your background in computer science?
I have no formal background in CS. I began teaching CS through an Algebra 1 remediation class, using the Bootstrap curriculum. I was introduced to ECS and fell in love. I have been an advocate for CS for All Teachers and didn’t even know.
Describe the most favorite CS project you have completed with your students.
I have enjoyed many CS projects throughout the years; however, I have to honestly say my most favorite CS project has been building a video game using Bootstrap. I was able to see students who had failed Algebra 1 multiple times succeed in ways they did not know they could. I saw how computer science could be used as a problem-solving tool. Students were excited to explain how their code worked, but more importantly, how it related to Algebra. It was an exciting time.
As teachers, we try every day to inspire our students. When have you been inspired by your students?
I am always inspired by my students. First, I am inspired by their resiliency. I work with kids who have had rough lives, those who have been told they cannot be a part of the changing world around them and they don’t have the skills to participate in a workforce that is forcing them from their neighborhoods. I am inspired by my students because although CS is sometimes hard for them, they persevere through. I am also inspired by them when we are working on designing webpages, they take it home, and create something that blows my mind. Their creativity and their grit is terrific.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I would have to say that my proudest professional accomplishment is teaching CS. I am a math teacher by trade and never thought I could teach CS; however, after participating in the ECS training, I found that teaching it was more about equity and using the computer as a problem-solving tool—things I could teach. I was excited to become a CS teacher and now consider myself a CS/math teacher.
What excites you most about the current state of computer science education in the US?
I am most excited about the wave of computer science and CS for All Teachers. I really do believe that all students should be exposed to some sort of CS. I think many students have false ideas about the subject. Once they take an exploratory course, they can find where they fit into this constantly changing world of technology. Like former President Obama said, I want my students to be not only consumers of technology, but makers as well. I am excited because the time is now. The resources are rich, and we should jump in.
What is your favorite CS tool or resource?
I love the ECS computer science practices. Although they are not a specific tool, I like them because they allow me to pick up any resource and show how it relates to CS.
What do you do to recharge when times are rough?
I remind myself that my students are the future and that one day they will operate some of these big companies right in our Silicon Valley backyard. I tell myself that I am making a difference and changing the landscape of the CS community. Sometimes, students help me recharge when they come in after a long weekend showing me an Arduino project they were working on or something they printed at a maker faire using a 3D printer.
What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?
I love that CS for All Teachers is more than CS teachers. I am inspired because I know that I can continue this work even though I don’t have a technical background in CS. I love the community created here.