Earlier this evening Chris Stephenson, the founding executive director of the Computer Science Teachers Association, announced her resignation from the CSTA. (Looking Back, Looking Ahead, and Thank You for the Honor of Serving CSTA) Her blog post includes a long list of the CSTA’s accomplishments over the first ten years of its existence. Make no mistake, Chris has been a driving force behind this organization from the beginning. Actually from before the beginning.
I’ve known Chris for many years now as we meet long before there was a CSTA. She has long been a powerful voice (and actor) for computer science education. I know that she will continue being that powerful voice as she takes on new challenges at that California advertising company (Google I think it is called) where she starts next month.
While Chris provides a look back at the history of CSTA I think it is important to look forward as well. The last year or two have seen an explosion of growth in interest in Computer Science and in the acceptance of computer science as counting for graduation credits. Code.Org has been a huge part of that and gets a lot of attention (well deserved) but it is important to remember they are building on a lot of the work that CSTA and its members have been doing for the past ten years. So where do we go from here?
CSTA is no less important now than it was ten years ago. I would argue that because of the progress we have made it is more important than ever. CSTA is a powerful voice of the computer science educator. It is the organization that supports local groups of teachers in CSTA chapters for example. It is the organization that provides the single most influential CS education professional development opportunity (the CSTA Annual Conference). It is the organization that has done the leg work behind many of the statistics that other organizations and groups use to make the case for CS education. And it is done the research into standards for courses and certification for CS educators.
As the demand for CS educators grows, and it surely will, CSTA will be the group that supports these teachers in the long run. Fortunately CSTA has a strong and active membership, a capable volunteer leadership in the Board (yes I’m on the board but there are some great people on it as well), a very good staff, and many people willing to step in and work for common goals.
Thanks Chris! You’re leaving CSTA in good shape.