Each month, highlighting a member of the CS for All Teachers community
Name: Jill Westerlund
Workplace: Hoover High School in Hoover, AL
Years in education: 27
Years teaching computer science: 10
TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE (CS)
What interests you about computer science?
CS is dynamic and ever changing in both creative application and scope. This keeps our courses interesting (and challenging).
How did you start teaching computer science? Do you have a background in CS?
After teaching for 15 years, I was encouraged by a prior employer to get an additional Master’s degree. Doing so meant I was then qualified to teach computer and information systems courses. This led to further study, and then to teaching computer science, specifically AP Computer Science A. Teaching computer science has become my passion as an educator ever since.
How have your computer science students inspired you? What is your favorite CS project you have completed with them?
The creativity students bring to projects is fun and inspiring - they take an idea and go to amazing places I hadn’t envisioned. I love unleashing creative minds to solve problems with technology!
How do you recruit students into your CS classes?
Personal outreach both student-to-student and teacher-to-student is most effective at my school. This year, we are sending personalized recruitment information cards to students encouraging them to consider Computer Sciences Principles and Computer Science A.
CS EDUCATION COMMUNITY
What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?
The encouragement of other educators is contageous. We need the energy and good ideas of the community to spur us on to be our best.
Besides the CS for All Teachers community of practice, what is your favorite CS tool or resource?
CS teacher groups on Facebook, following various teachers and support organizations on Twitter.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to potential CS educators?
Go to professional development sessions, get connected with an online community, and reach out so as not to feel isolated since many CS teachers are the solo CS educator at a school.
TELL US MORE!
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Working with the College Board’s pilot and course launch of CS Principles, the friends made, and the experiences shared. The impact of the course has been an honor and a joy to my life.
What do you do to recharge after a long day (or week, month, year, etc.) of teaching?
I love to knit, so anytime I can sit and listen to music, an audiobook, or watch a movie while knitting is a nice hour or two for me.