Posted by Christopher Kerr on Apr 27, 2021
Congratulations are in order for South Windsor Computer Science Teacher, and South Windsor Teacher of the Year 2019,  Jamie Lang for receiving the 2021 Connecticut NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award.  We reached out to Jamie to hear her story and gather some great tips you can use to improve your computer science presence in school for young womxn and the student body as a whole.

Her Success Story

Before arriving at teaching in 2011 Jamie worked in the Information Technology field where her experiences established the foundation of her thought-provoking and highly engaged Computer Science classroom.  Throughout her time in South Windsor High School Jamie developed and launched a Game Design course using MIT App Inventor which, while an interesting foray into computer science, had enrollment that was predominantly male..  Eventually Jamie focused her efforts into establishing a strong Advanced Placement program and developed new opportunities for students to succeed in AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A.  Between her time in 2011 to present (2021) Jamie has grown her program to successfully run on average three sections of AP Computer Science Principles and two sections of AP Computer Science A with another teacher offering other introductory courses and cofounded our Girls in STEM day, which is now an annual event organized and run by students that connects young womxn and their allies with professionals in STEM fields.

Outside the classroom Jamie is continuing to find authentic experiences she can bring back to the classroom.  For example Jamie explains how she used Fund for Teachers to support her interest in Iceland’s Cryptocurrency boom and superior Data center security.  During her time there Jamie traveled to Iceland, toured the geothermal facilities and was allowed access to a secured data center.  As a result of her efforts Jamie brought her new learning back to the classroom for a project-based experience not found elsewhere.  To quote Jamie, “Computing doesn’t exist in a vacuum” and showing this interconnectedness between Nature and Computer is a great way for students to appreciate this.
Tips for success in bringing students to the classroom

Jamie’s tips for success can be found in all the ‘best practice’ documents you’ve read about bringing greater representation to your classroom, but her experience proves they work!

  1. Educate and involve School Counseling - “I created fliers explaining the difference between AP CSP and AP CSA” [see below]
  2. Be visible in your school and remind students you exist.  For example Jamie runs a mentoring program with her middle school where my AP students facilitate activities during CS education week for the 6th grade students. This effort has helped gain exposure for their programs.
  3. Cross coordinate with other departments such as Math and Science during course registrations.
  4. Ensure your pre-requisites are easy to achieve to enable greater equity for enrollment.
  5. Ensure your physical space is welcoming.

To add on a personal touch Jamie keeps an email list of present and former (but still in school) female students so, “I can reach out personally to invite them and their friends to apply for awards like the NCWIT award or register for one of our courses.”

Honorable Mentions in the Connecticut Aspiration in Computing Educator Award

  • Karen Abbey - Parish Hill High School
  • Eileen Lastrina - RHAM High School

We would once again like to congratulate Jamie Lang on her accomplishments.

To nominate your student for the Aspirations Award, navigate here.  

Some great artifacts