The University of Pittsburgh BA in History
Grand Canyon University Masters in Education
I went to high school in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. I had many great and not so great experiences in grade school. The great experiences always stemmed from an educator. I was lucky to have several great educators that not only believed in me as a student but showed their dedication by going above and beyond. A lot of this support was evidenced during tutoring sessions, showing up to football games, creating engaging lessons, and honestly just the overall feeling of knowing that they were always there to have your back. I’m thankful that I’m still able to communicate with some of these educators as they are now supporting me in my career. (I see you on my feed, and I thank you.)
After I completed my undergraduate degree, I found myself working as a TSS. Through this work, I experienced the gratification of helping improve the lives of others. The trend continued when I landed another job as an emotional support paraprofessional. While juggling being an after-school site coordinator, emotional support paraprofessional, and having our first daughter, I obtained my teaching certification and Master’s degree.
I have always considered myself a lifelong learner; however, it is the challenges and successes of my scholars that continue to teach and inspire me. Additionally, I’m also inspired by the dedication of all educators–Those that I work with directly are some of the hardest working and talented people that I know. The work of teachers was especially inspiring during our time of remote learning. Teachers were challenged but remained innovative and compassionate during a time of chaos and great uncertainty.
I’m currently the K-8 Computer Science Integration Teacher at Propel Homestead and have helped our district as a Technology Liaison for over 8 years. Previously, I was a 3rd Grade Science teacher, emotional support paraprofessional, and an after-school site coordinator for Propel Schools. Additionally, I worked for many years as a Therapeutic Staff Support through Pennsylvania’s Behavior Health Rehabilitation services.
Outside of my school, I’m a Keystone Technology Innovator 2014, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Sphero Hero, 100 K in 10 educator, and a PASYDN PA STEM Ambassador. I am also a board member at the Pennsylvania Teachers Advisory Committee and an at large board member at SWPAECT.
The joy of students understanding a concept and celebrating their success is one of the best things that anyone can experience. I’m passionate about teaching computer science and STEM. In addition to giving my scholars high-quality instruction around the subject, it opens doors to skills and creativity that some never knew they possessed. A scholar that may have difficulties in math or reading is editing and debugging textbase code in my classroom! This outlet provides joy and feelings that positively influence the lives of my scholars and our school environment. It also creates pathways for real-world skills and careers.
A lot of my scholars come from challenging situations that have been a result of less than equitable scenarios within our society. Many that enter kindergarten are behind because of access and opportunity to attend a quality preschool. Other situations are far beyond understanding or control. With poverty, there is a higher number of mental health and trauma-related issues. We know that this is a challenge to learning. When children feel unsafe physically and emotionally, they do not learn as well.
As an educator in this new teaching environment, I have challenged my own bias by working closely with peers to create and reflect on educational practices. I commit to being an antiracist, and that practice begins within the walls of my classroom. I believe that any of my scholars of any gender or race can be successful in learning and have a career in computer science and/or STEM. I also commit to calling out injustices and having tough conversations when warranted or observed.
We are constantly creating meaningful relationships with our scholars and their families. One way that I have directly connected with families is through STEM nights, remake learning days, and offering workshops for parents on digital literacy and managing devices. With academics, I provide a quality program that aligns with the CSTA standards. Scholars in my classroom receive a unique one of a kind experience. This includes instruction with block-based, text-based, and physical coding. Projects and other integrated technology have included virtual reality, augmented reality, music production, digital animations, green screen music videos, DJing, 3d printing, paper circuits, and light painting.
I’m proud of the work that we do. Every day is an opportunity to spark curiosity and the love of learning through engaging problem-solving methodologies. I believe that by exposing young learners to concepts like this increases the opportunity of success in these disciplines. This is done with the hope that we can close the opportunity gap.
I hope that education becomes the single most valued part of our society.