Let's hear it for high school educators in tech!


It should come as no surprise that educators often have the biggest influence on students when it comes to their decision to pursue a career in tech. The NCWIT report Girls In IT: The Facts describes a study in which 1,434 undergraduate students found that encouragement to persist was the driving factor behind female students’ likelihood to choose a computing major or career — more so than their perceptions of or confidence in their ability. The positive influence educators have on their students is certainly one of the key factors in driving more girls into tech careers.

That’s why we’re excited to remember the 2015 Aspirations in Computing Educator Award recipients! We also look forward to recognizing the next round of 2016 recipients; applications are open through November 9, 2015. View application details at http://bit.ly/AiCEdAward.

Congratulations to the 2015 Educator Award winners:

  • Jim Adamson, Central Kitsap High School, Silverdale, WA - James Adamson is a technology teacher and has been teaching since 1993 with great success in helping students reach their goals in academics, careers, and SkillsUSA competitions.
  • Douglas Alexander, Lincoln School, Providence, RI - Doug has spent the last eight years teaching Robotics & Programming to young women at Lincoln School where he also began the Robotics program, which has grown from five girls in a small room to two classes in a fully equipped workshop with a 3D printer.
  • Zack Alvey, Pine View High School, Washington, UT - Zack is a Computer Science teacher who has been teaching his students how they can change the world for ten years.
  • Noemi Aquino, Brigida Alvarez Rodriguez School, Vega Baja, PR - Noemi is a technology teacher who works with Robotics students with a focus on aquatics. Her students have received various prizes and the opportunity to travel to competitions around the world.
  • Douglas Bertelsen, Gretna High School, Gretna, NE - Douglas has been a science teacher for eight years during which time he has extended the extracurricular STEM offerings of the school to include rocketry, computer science, and high altitude weather balloons. In his classroom, young women have been encouraged to hold leadership positions that assist them in furthering their interest in a STEM career.
  • Laura Blankenship, The Baldwin School, Bryn Mawr, PA - Laura is the chair of the Computer Science Department. She became interested in technology after learning to build websites.
  • Angela Chambers, Suncoast High School, Riviera Beach, FL - Angela has taught several programming courses and has introduced students to the Android Development Kit, giving them the opportunity to experiment with Google Glass. She promotes Computer Science as a creative career and shows students that it isn't just logic and math but also a career that combines creativity with technology.
  • Andrea Chaves, The Young Women's Leadership School of Astoria, Astoria, NY - Andrea blends her expertise in Spanish and technology into an innovative learning experience by having her students work to create animated stories in both Spanish and coding languages. Her classrooms are paper free, digitalized, student centered learning zones.
  • Zakiya Edens, Career Beginnings, Hartford, CT - Zakiya has been counseling high school and college students for the past six years about their personal goals, college acceptance, and college retention. She has over ten years of college counseling experience and has been an active mentor for underserved youth for six years.
  • Ted Emch, Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor, MI - Ted teaches Computer Science and has succeeded in growing his program from one section of 15 students to four full sections this year. He hopes to offer the AP Computer Science Principles course, starting next year. He also coaches the FIRST Robotics team at Pioneer High school in Ann Arbor.
  • Brian Fendrich, Rosemount High School, Rosemount, MN - Brian has been teaching Computer Science for the last five years and has grown his program from one class of 15 students to  three sections with 80 students. The school also now offers an Advanced Computer Science class and will begin offering Computer Science Principles next year.
  • Lisa Ferguson, Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School (Urbana School District #116), Urbana, IL - Lisa Ferguson is currently a first grade teacher Urbana School District #116 and a graduate student at the University of Illinois. Driving her instruction is the belief that integrating a wide range of meaningful technologies enhances learning and motivates learners.
  • Crystal Furman, Brookwood High School, Snellville, GA - Crystal Furman has been teaching Computer Science for the past 17 years, eight of which she has spent building the Computer Science program from one class of all male students to five classes of AP CS A and CS Principles with around 15% female students. Recently, she has begun working for the College Board as the Director of Instructional Design and PD Resources for Computer Science.
  • Tony Graham, Flour Bluff High School, Corpus Christi, TX - Tony has been a technology teacher for over ten years and feels it is imperative to not only teach students how to use technology safely and ethically but professionally. He encourages female students to recognize their unique perspectives and how they can use them to make a difference in the world.
  • Melody Hagaman, Centennial High School, Las Cruces, NM - Melody has engaged the entire school community in Computer Science via recruitment and outreach and has grown the school's Computer Science program from nothing to over 160 students in just over a year. She plans to expand the Computer Science program beyond her classroom capacity and help her next group of seniors get accepted into Computer Science programs across the country.
  • Matthew Harbinger, Cicero - North Syracuse High School, Cicero, NY - Matt teaches Mathematics and Computer Sciences for grades 10-12 and was named a New York State Master Teacher in 2013. He works to promote Computer Science programs throughout the region and enjoys engaging in Computer Science related activities.
  • Lisa Heid, Noblesville High School, Noblesville, IN - Lisa has been teaching for 18 years and has taught C++, Visual Basic, Java and AP Computer Science. Next year, she is adding Project Lead the Way’s Computer Science and Software Engineering course, which correlates with the  AP Computer Science Principles exam.
  • Cody Henrichsen, Canyons Technical Education Center, Sandy, UT - Cody has been involved in teaching Computer Science and Programming for the past 15 years. He has hosted the Girls Code at CTEC workshop for the past three summers.
  • Luis Hernandez, LAUSD Beyond The Bell Middle School Unit, Los Angeles, CA - As a Cyber Patriot coach for the last two years Luis has been able to encourage students to try new things with technology and push themselves further than they ever thought possible. While recruiting for this program he has also seen an increase in female students excelling within the realm of Computer Science and planning to pursue careers within the field.
  • Michelle Hill, Waukee Center for Advanced Professional Studies, Waukee, IA - Michelle has been teaching Computer Science for 16 years. She has been a Teacher Champion for the HyperStream Club where students experience various careers in technology through authentic learning projects, job shadows and internships, competitions, and community service projects.
  • Lakshmi Iyer, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC - Lakshmi is involved in community engaged teaching, scholarship, and outreach that furthers the role of women in IT. She is also the founder and Director of the "IT is for Girls" at UNCG, a program for middle girls and high school women that aims to increase their IT skills and awareness about education and career paths in computing.
  • Sue Johnson, BVSD/Monarch High School, Louisville, CO - Sue is a teacher whose passion is getting students excited about Computer Science. Her program has 50% women in the intro courses with many of them continuing with Computer Science in university programs.
  • Bill Johnson, Cuyahoga Falls High School, Cuyahoga Falls, OH - Bill has been recognized for his teaching several times and successfully championed to update the Computer Programming classes being taught from Qbasic and Pascal to Visual Basic and C++. He is a Dual Enrollment Adjunct Professor, which allows students to receive college credit for each of the three programming classes currently offered.
  • Dean Johnson, Fort Atkinson High School, Fort Atkinson, WI - Dean has taught Math and Computer Programming classes at the high school level for over 20 years. His Computer Science course enrollment grew after revising the curriculum in 2007. Enrollment for girls is at 25 percent.
  • Deborah Kariuki, Round Rock ISD, Round Rock, TX - Deborah came to the U.S. from Kenya to obtain her Bachelors of Science degree In Computer Science with a minor in Digital Electronics. She has been a Computer Science teacher for four years, and was recently appointed a board member of TAME and ACET.
  • Douglas Kiang, Punahou School, Honolulu, HI - Douglas is a speaker, teacher, and workshop presenter who also created GO! Code a series of hands-on workshops that teach middle school girls to design and create apps. His students have worked with local businesses and experts to build and publish apps that help autistic kids to count, help athletes recover from injuries and help children whose parents are getting divorced.
  • Dov Kruger, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ - Dov has worked with students from kindergarten to post-graduate levels with his primary research interest in designing STEM curricula to achieve improved results. He is the founder and president of Ad Astra Education a not-for-profit dedicated to improving STEM Education.
  • Judith LaPlante, Powell High School Powell, WY - Judith is a teacher who continues to focus on expanding the horizons of all her students , especially the young women in her rural community. She hopes to be a role model for them to see what they can aspire to be and accomplish beyond the cultural, geographic and gender boundaries of small town America.
  • Selwyn Lawrence, South Lakes High School, Reston, VA - Selwyn is a National Board Certified Technology Teacher, curriculum writer for the state and district, as well as a University of Virginia Tapestry Workshop Master teacher.
  • Kayla Leatherman, St. Teresa's Academy, Kansas City, MO - Kayla is a teacher who has recently  enjoyed learning more about the school's server systems and how to build desktop computers. In the classroom she utilizes Scratch and Python and will be introducing GameSalad Creator soon.
  • Connie Lutz, Washington High School, Washington, MO - As a Math teacher and department chair, Connie has taken the initiative to incorporate stimulating technology classes into the high school math curriculum to better prepare students for STEM-related careers. She believes developing confidence, especially in girls, is the key to their success in STEM courses.
  • Janice Mak, Explorer MS/Paradise Valley Unified School District, Phoenix, AZ - Janice has lived and worked abroad in Moscow, Russia giving her a global perspective to education. She infuses learning in the classroom with relevant and engaging 21st century competencies inspiring her students as much as they inspire her.
  • Dani McAvoy, Worcester Academy, Worcester, MA - As a Computer Science teacher Dani is building the Computer Science Program which has grown from less than 20 students in the first year to over 80 students in the second year. Dani also organized an Hour of Code which allowed her to give elementary, middle, and high school students a chance to experience Computer Science.
  • Jacquelyn Meissner, Mountain Home High School and Career Academies, Mountain Home, AR - Jackie is a teacher who also mentors students. She is a member of the Science and Technology Group, a local non-profit group that promotes technology education to K-12 students by encouraging hands on learning experiences with professionals in the field.
  • Paul Muhl, Santa Barbara High School, Santa Barbara, CA - Paul is a teacher and former software engineer who along with other teachers, university professors, and local parents helped found the Santa Barbara High School Computer Science Academy. The academy exposes a diverse range of students to Computer Science and computing-related careers while serving a population which reflects the general student body, with a special emphasis on girls.
  • Mark Nance, Mt. Edgecumbe High School, Sitka, AK - Mark has been teaching for twenty years throughout Alaska.
  • Carole Ng, Santa Teresa High School, San Jose, CA - Carole is a Math and Computer Science teacher who promotes Computer Science by visiting classrooms, talking to individual students, especially girls, to assure them that Computer Science is not as hard or mysterious as they think. She also does Hour of Code activities in her after school Computer Science club to attract more members. She is currently collaborating with the Multimedia Department to develop more Computer Science classes.
  • Kent Pendleton, Trinity Christian Academy, Addison, TX - Kent has been teaching at his current school for 28 years and is presently crafting an apps course to target students without traditional programming experience. He integrates mathematics with technology to show student show things are done in "the real world" while demonstrating the relevance of what they learn to other courses.
  • Sanjeetha Peters, Louisiana School For Math, Science, and The Arts, Natchitoches, LA - Sanjeetha was almost always the only woman in her graduate Computer Science classes, which made her determined to encourage her female students in the world of computing. She has seen female students thrive in Computer Science when mentored and has noticed students who have an aptitude in math also flourish in Computer Science. She in turn identifies these students and encourages them to take Computer Programming classes.
  • Michael Price, Springbrook High School, Silver Spring, MD - As a junior in high school Michael enrolled in his first C++ class and before the first quarter was over he was acting as a "teacher's assistant" which came naturally to him. During his senior year of college he interned in the Computer Science department introducing beginning programming and robotics concepts to elementary school students and ran a Robotics camp for the YMCA after graduation.
  • Patricia Redding, Mountain View High School, Vancouver, WA - Patricia started teaching high school Computer Science and Pre-engineering after a 26-year career as an engineering manager at a high tech company. She strongly encourages her students to experience Computer Science and Engineering outside the classroom by participating in the OCSTA Willamette University Programming Contest.
  • Seth Reichelson - Lake Brantley High School, Altamonte Springs, FL - Seth has developed a national reputation for his outstanding ability to recruit and retain a diverse set of high school computer science students. He has been named Teacher of the Year by many organizations, and his programming teams have won every state competition in Florida.
  • Heather Renfroe, Gulf Breeze High School, Gulf Breeze, FL - Heather was one of her school district’s first Internet & Web Design teachers and has had extraordinary success as the sole instructor for the GBHS Academy of Multimedia Design and Technology with more than 500 students having received Adobe Industry Certifications. Heather's students participated in the National High Water mark Sign Initiative where they designed the signage used at local waterways to inform residents and visitors of the high water marks in an effort to raise flood awareness.
  • Theresa Richards, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA - Theresa has been a mentor for the “Girls of Steel,” an all girl FIRST robotics team at Carnegie Mellon University. She also served seven years as a science teacher at the Ellis School, an-all girl school where she integrated Robotics into a Human Anatomy and Physiology course using the Hummingbird robotics kit and has also taught a related "Anatomy and Robotics" camp to middle school students since 2013.
  • Livia Santos, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Houston, TX - Livia considers herself a facilitator and coach. One of her main goals is ensuring that when a woman enters a Computer Science classroom she is on the same level as her male peers.
  • Buffy Smith, Helena High School, Helena, MT - Buffy teaches computer classes and actively pursues dual-credit opportunities for her high school computer students.
  • Pat St. Clair, Edmond Memorial High School, Edmond, OK - Pat has enjoyed teaching Computer Science for the past eight years. She constantly promotes the importance of Computer Science at the high school level to students, parents, and administrators.
  • Tiffany Stonecipher, Muscle Shoals Career Academy, Muscle Shoals, AL - Tiffany prepares students for the world of IT through the Microsoft IT Academy and was awarded the "Outstanding Credentialing Success" Award for certifying the highest number of students last school year. She also hosted an 'Hour of Code' for the second consecutive year for grades 8-12 in the Muscle Shoals City Schools system.
  • Steven Svetlik, Deerfield High School, Deerfield, IL - Steven is a teacher, who after several years of teaching Computer Science, came to believe that passivity in bringing women into the field is no longer acceptable. He feels he has a responsibility to break the stereotype of a computer scientist as a white male and to find avenues that welcome young women and build the unique talents of each female student expressing interest.
  • Christy Tolentino, Fort Mill High School, Fort Mill, SC - Christy took over the Computer Programming courses at her high school and quickly recognized the disparity in gender in those courses, so she began working to recruit more female students.
  • Ann Wittbrodt, Sonoma Valley High School, Sonoma, CA - As a technology director at HP’s Education Services, Ann worked to recruit women into a variety of technical careers. She also spoke at local Silicon Valley middle schools about women in technology. Ann returned from early retirement four years ago to teach and started the AP Computer Science course at Sonoma Valley High School where girls represent almost half of the enrollment.
  • Evelyn Zayas, Kihei Charter High School, Kihei, HI - Evelyn worked as a Computer Scientist in the defense contracting arena for decades before finding her calling teaching Computer Science. As a technology and engineering teacher Evelyn runs an afterschool Girls Who Code Club to share her love of Computer Science and is also a K-5 Affiliate for Code.org.


The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award is sponsored by AT&T.

Aspirations Community: 
National Award

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