2020 NCWIT National AiC Educator Award Winner Catherine Tabor

Catherine Tabor PhotoNCWIT Aspirations in Computing is pleased to announce that Catherine Tabor has been named the recipient of the 2020 National NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Educator Award!

Each year, the NCWIT AiC Educator Award publicly celebrates formal and informal educators who encourage 9th-12th grade students who self-identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary to explore their interest in computing and technology. To date, more than 500 educators have been honored for demonstrating an exceptionally strong, consistent, and positive involvement in promoting gender equity in computing. In its third year running, the National AiC Educator Award, sponsored by AT&T, publicly celebrates one outstanding educator whose work exemplifies the best of the Award, through their continued efforts to encourage high school womxn’s interest and participation in technology pursuits. 

Catherine Tabor is a Math, Science, and Computer Science teacher in Canutillo Independent School District in El Paso, Texas. Over her five years of teaching there, Computer Science education has expanded from zero classes to multiple courses, two clubs and an Honor Society. Since receiving her dual credit certification, she also teaches college level, credit bearing CS courses to her majority non-white and predominantly Latinx high school students.

Catherine’s interest in teaching Computer Science stemmed from a mentor’s influence. During a career pivot, she spent some time working in an IT shop, where she realized that even though her organization offered internships and scholarships for students pursuing CS degrees at the local university, they often had a hard time finding people who wanted to take advantage of these opportunities. When she returned to teaching, Catherine was determined to bring Computer Science to each school where she taught. Currently, Catherine says, “I am lucky that my school has decided to dedicate an entire position to Computer Science. While I used to be torn between three disciplines, I am now able to teach all Computer Science.” 

Keenly aware of the barriers that prevent womxn and members of other underrepresented groups from participating fully in the computing field, Catherine is dedicated to eradicating the gender gap in access and representation. One way she does this is by providing extracurricular opportunities for womxn, such as hosting a Girls Who Code club, supporting a GirlsGoCyber team, and taking a group of students to a Google eCSR symposium. Since being selected as the 2018 NCWIT AiC Greater El Paso Affiliate Educator Award Winner, she has engaged her school as an NCWIT AspireIT partner and hosted an AspireIT program run by AiC Community members for two years in a row. 

Notably, Catherine is also pursuing a PhD in Computer Science, where she is studying the prevalence of linguistic bias in the instruments of Computer Science assessment. She hopes that this research will help with the retention of women and other underrepresented populations in computing. Additionally, she plans to work with the University of Texas - El Paso to build a Computer Science certification pathway for teachers in order to expand Computer Science offerings throughout the city’s schools.

“As to what keeps me excited about Computer Science,” Catherine reflects, “it is that it is constantly evolving. There is never a boring moment and there are more and more materials and ancillaries that are being developed for the teaching of CS concepts. People are finally interested in what we do and teach, and everyone wants to be a part of it. It is an exciting time in CS education. And, who wouldn’t want to be a computer scientist? I get to solve puzzles all day long.”

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