Friday, June 28, 2013

CS Educator Interview: Kathleen Weaver

For the second in my series of blog interviews with computer science educators I present Kathleen Weaver from Hillcrest High School  in Dallas Texas. Texas is a big hub of high school computer science education by the way. Here now Kathleen.

Where do you teach? What sort of school is it?

Public high school in Dallas Texas, urban school, mixed demographic -- from free and reduced lunch to massively spoiled rich.  Every religion, every ethic group you can think of, over 50 home languages.

How did you get started teaching computer science?

Needed to make a major change -- either divorce or job change -- decided to ditch the career and keep the husband.  

Describe the computer science curriculum at your school. What courses do you have and what are the focuses of each?

I’m it.  We’ve got PreAp / AP CS which meets together and don’t have much call for.  Robotics is new this year.  Game programming was new last year, widely popular but doesn’t go the way I want it to.  Web design has been around for a long time, again widely popular but doesn’t go my way.  We have an intro course, traditionally was basic, revamped it last year, and well, it’s an intro course.

What is your overall teaching philosophy? Project based learning? Flipped classroom? In short, what makes your CS program “your CS program?”

I try to make things student centered.  However their ambitions are a lot bigger than their will power.

What is the biggest challenge in teaching CS at your school?

See above.  What they want to learn is a larger subset of what they actually want to do.

What is administration’s support (or lack of support) like at your school?

They generally leave me alone, as much as they can.

How do you measure success for your program? For your students?

Success in later life.  I’ve been doing for 21 years and I get a lot of feedback.

What is the one thing you like to talk about regarding your program that I haven’t already asked?

All the cool things my former kids are doing:
  • Network support -- kid was raised to be homeless, I swear.
  • Flying tourists around the Denali National Park -- web design got him there
  • Supporting hardware for Bing
  • Came back and paid to refurbish the baseball field ($20,000 worth)
  • Recently gave my classroom $50 through Donor’s Choose because I help her understand her husband.

More of Kathleen on the Internet

For a full list of interviews in this series please see CS Educator Interviews: The Index

No comments: