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Leadership Cohort Activities in Gwinnett County, Georgia

I began this school year with a renewed spirit, after having attending the Leadership Cohort in Chicago, IL this summer! It was so empowering to be amongst folks with like minds and a passion to grow our computer science programs at our schools.

As the Program Specialist for High Schools in Gwinnett County, Georgia, I serve as a liaison between the Computer Science teachers and the Director of Technical Education, Computer Science, and Apprenticeships. During the week of pre-planning, the Assistant Principal of Curriculum at my school stopped me in the hallway and asked me if I had any ideas about how I could possibly help to increase the number of students in the Computer Science program. I said, "Do I?!" He came into my classroom and I told him about the cohort, and all of the activities that we'd done to that end. So, we both left our little impromptu meeting feeling very encouraged. As part of an aggressive recruiting program this year, I will be at the feeder middle school's Orientation Night, equipped with a Smartboard showing some Greenfoot programs, Scratch animations, and Alice movies. I will also take along a couple of Lego NXT robots. The idea is to get the upcoming freshman class students "amped up" to take computer science courses as early as their first semester in high school. To get some of the current students at the school interested in our courses, I'm going to work with teachers in other disciplines to create projects that incorporate computer science in their other courses. For example, one year, one of the Foreign Language teachers and I created a project in which my Advanced Web Design students created a Flash matching game to help with Spanish vocabulary. We each had our own rubric to grade the project, and the students were very proud of their work. I will also recruit more female students by going to the softball team and cheerleaders, and encouraging them to register for computer science courses with a "buddy". There's been some research that indicates that female students feel less isolated in a computer science course when they take the course with a friend. I've done this before, and it seemed to be true.

This summer, my goal is to facilitate 2 or 3 Computer Science camps at one of the local middle schools, to teach upcoming 7th and 8th graders Scratch, Alice, and Lego robots. I will also speak with the Program Specialist for Middle School Computer Science as well, to see if he'd be interested in participating in this project with me.

I'm very excited about my endeavors this year, and I'm hopeful that my efforts to create "One Voice" are successful.

Michelle Venable-Foster
South Gwinnett High School
Math / Computer Science Teacher
Program Specialist for High School Computer Science
Gwinnett County, Georgia


Sounds like some great plans there. With some support from administration, which it sounds like you have, you've got a great chance for success. I look forward to hearing how things develop.

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