Posted: Thu, 11/01/2018 - 13:45
Each month, we highlight a member of the CS for All Teachers community.
Name: Jenn Vermillion
Occupation: Director of Innovative Learning
Workplace: St. Catherine's School in Richmond, VA
Years in education: 18
Years teaching computer science: 4
TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE (CS)
What interests you about CS?
I love helping my students learn how to navigate the process of solving complex problems.
How did you start teaching CS? Do you have a background in CS?
My background is in curriculum and instruction as well as instructional technology. Although I was teaching many principles of computer science, I taught my first computer science "class" four years ago. We created the curriculum from scratch, relying heavily on the AP CS Principles framework.
How have your CS students inspired you? What is your favorite CS project you have completed with them?
Some of my favorite moments are when my students work with other students throughout our community. Our campus includes kids from age three through twelfth grade. I love seeing them mentor one another. As an example, we hosted a Techgirlz workshop on mapping for humanity. Several of our upper school students helped facilitate the workshop, and watching them explain complex concepts in terms the younger students could understand was inspiring.
How do you recruit students into your CS classes?
I teach in an all-girls' school and am a firm believer in growth mindset. I think it's important to communicate to them that as long as they are willing to put in the hard work, they can be successful in my introductory class. I also try to focus on the relevance of CS in their lives and make the course as collaborative and project-based as it can be.
CS EDUCATION COMMUNITY
How do you get other teachers, administrators, and community members excited about computer science?
Projects that solve real community challenges or that lead to tangible products are always fun. Tools like Ozobot, micro:bit, Makey Makey, littleBits, and Hummingbird Robotics Kits help bring concepts to life.
What excites you most about the current state of CS education in the US?
Computer science connects with every other discipline. Exploring the connections between computer science and student interests, like dance and government, is always exciting.
What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?
This is such a supportive community. CS for All Teachers members provide me with inspiration and creative ideas, and discussions with other members help me feel less alone and brainstorm solutions when I am grappling with a challenge in my classroom.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to potential CS educators?
Make things as visible and relevant as you can for students with unplugged activities and current events.
TELL US MORE!
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
When a student I have taught goes on to study computer science in college. While I cannot take credit for their interest or success, I care deeply about helping my students (all girls) further develop their interest and confidence with computer science.
Write a poem or haiku describing what teaching CS is like.
Solving problems with logic
Better with others
What do you do to recharge after a long day (or week, month, year, etc.) of teaching?
My rescue dog Bowie keep me laughing. We walk each morning before work and each afternoon when I get home. Those quiet moments in nature with him allow me to prepare mentally for the day ahead and to decompress at the end of the day.