Port Chester teacher recounts summer of high tech
It was a summer to remember for Port Chester High School computer science teacher Virginia Peterson.
In early August, Ms. Peterson traveled to California, usually a popular vacation destination. However, her trip was a working vacation.
Earlier in the year, Ms. Peterson was one of 100 teachers nationwide who had been selected to attend the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles National Teachers Summit at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The trip was hosted by the National Science Foundation from Aug. 1 to 3.
“I was thrilled when I found out I was picked,” Ms. Peterson said. “I knew I would learn a lot that I could bring back and help my students.”
The long days, which began at 7 a.m. and went into the evening, were all worth it.
“The workshops were invaluable, but the ability to connect with other computer science teachers from around the country was a real highlight for me,” Ms. Peterson said.
Throughout her time at the social media giant, Ms. Peterson said the workshops focused on two areas relating to assessment and diversity.
“Both of these topics were important to me,” she said. “I learned a lot about how the AP exam and the performance tasks are graded, which will help me prepare my students better. On the diversity side, it was great to hear how important it is to the tech industry that more girls and underrepresented minorities are given the opportunity to enter the tech field.”
Ms. Peterson has been an educator at Port Chester High School for three years and teaches Computer Science Discoveries, Creative Web Development & Programming and AP Computer Science Principles.
“One of the reasons that I teach computer science is that I believe it is a civil rights issue,” she continued. “Since over 90 percent of students who take computer science in college report that they took it in high school, not offering female students and students of color computer science at the high school level is a form of oppression.”
She has yet to share with her students details about her summer experience saying she is waiting for the right time.
The exciting trip to Facebook was not the only interesting learning experience Ms. Peterson enjoyed this summer.
When not in front of the classroom Ms. Peterson also oversees workshops for fellow computer science teachers in the New York Department of Education.
“I run these workshops for a not-for-profit in New York City called Mouse. They are the regional partner for code.org. One of the courses I facilitate workshops for is called Computer Science Discoveries. It is an introductory computer science class offered by code.org. In fact, code.org flew me out to Phoenix this summer for seven days of training on how to effectively facilitate these workshops,” Ms. Peterson said.