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STEMpath Alumni

Hear what our alumni have to say about STEMpath

STEMpath Kelsey 2

Ms. Kelsey R.

STEMpath Graduation Year: 2019
School District: St. Vrain Valley Schools
Teaching Focus: Computer Science and Engineering

Number of Years Teaching: 10

What factors contributed towards your decision to apply to MindSpark Learning's STEMpath program?

I was eager to gain industry experience through the summer externship. Specifically, I wanted to learn more technical skills for my computer science and engineering classes, but also see agile teams in action. It was important to me to improve how I design experiences for student teams that is realistic to the modern workplace.

How are you balancing STEMpath, work and personal life?

Debrief verbally in a carpool with a classmate or spend 10 minutes writing down key take-aways that you want to apply to your classroom. The amount of material and good ideas I retained was only a fraction of what I wish it was, so I recommend setting up a system for synthesizing your learning in a way that works for you like taking voice memos en route home or during your commute could help save the gems of wisdom.

What new skills or practices are you planning to incorporate into your profession or classroom?

I learned more details about how agile software development works from the MindSpark Learning classes, LinkedIn Learning summer course, and first-hand experience externing with Couragion. This has significantly improved how I structure my year-long, project-based "Senior Design" capstone class, as well as strengthened my resolve to stick with it for the whole year.

Describe the culture and learning environment of MindSpark Learning.
Egalitarian, motivating, stimulating, curious, well-equipped.


How do you see STEMpath as a vital piece for preparing your students to the modern-day workforce?

STEMpath was a vital piece for preparing my students to the modern-day workforce because it updating my vocabulary and lens on employability skills. STEMpath employability skills were woven through MindSpark Learning courses thematically and multi-modally. We could immediately apply to our own classrooms, have updated knowledge on the urgency of students learning programming skills, the highest priority languages to learn, and how learning to program opens upwardly mobile doors in ALL careers. I can now legitimately encourage students interested in becoming visual artists that learning to program will benefit them in an art career.

What did you look forward to in your Externship?

What I was looking forward to in my externship was to upskill my technical skills, network with professionals in industry beyond K-12 education, and to verify whether my instruction in computational thinking and agile team processes was on point with reality in the tech sector.

What was one of your most memorable experiences while in STEMpath?
Our first Saturday class for Equity-Centered Design Thinking had a team building event. It was so much fun in every way: fun-wise, team-building wise, and setting the tone for a highly collaborative and innovative year.

STEMpath_Emily 2

Ms. Emily C.

STEMpath Graduation Year: 2020
School District:  Denver Public Schools
Teaching Focus: Middle School
Number of Years Teaching: 7

What factors contributed towards your decision to apply to MindSpark Learning's STEMpath program?
I teach at a school that has a STEM focus, and I am a Science Team Specialist there. This seemed like a great opportunity to learn how to better support my school community with engaging in computer science.

How are you balancing STEMpath, work and personal life?
Trying to make sure I use my time wisely, scheduling workout time, and having accountability buddies who tell me when to take a break from STEMpath and work.

What new skills or practices are you planning to incorporate into your profession or classroom?
I am really excited to incorporate design thinking with project-based learning. Additionally, I think that the resources shared will help my students to better understand computer science and careers.

How and when did you know that STEMpath was the right fit in advancing your teaching career?
I felt that STEMpath was the right fit for me after the first couple of classes. At first, I was apprehensive because I don't know anything about teaching computer science, but have since found that this is very much a program that is supporting teachers in bringing STEM education back into our classrooms. The curriculum is useful and I have already found many great ideas to share with my students!

Describe the culture and learning environment of MindSpark Learning.
MindSpark has been a great experience! The staff has been welcoming and classes are engaging. It's been a great place to collaborate with like-minded educators.

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Ms. Amy G

STEMpath Graduation Year: 2022
School District:  West Jefferson Middle School, Jefferson County Public Schools
Teaching Focus: Digital Teacher Librarian
Number of Years Teaching: 15

What made you apply to STEMpath? 

It’s a great opportunity to learn more about computer science. I have colleagues that work a lot with [the] Computer Science and Technology Student Association, and I’ve been asked to help, but I thought ‘You don’t know quite enough to really help.’ 

What do you think STEMpath will do for your students?

Where I live, we have a lot of students who do not have internet access, and the more that we can do at school, to show them how things work, that’s going to be beneficial. What we do today is different than what we did a few years ago. It’s going to be different than what we do in a few years. What we can do to help kids not only to learn these skills, but also to apply what they’re learning, and transfer that knowledge. It serves students in the long run; they’ll be more likely to consider computer science classes in the future, or to go into a field that requires computer science. 

Why do you think it’s so important for students to have that foundational knowledge in Computer Science? 

By having basic, foundational knowledge in Computer Science, students can make better choices about what they’re going to do. This knowledge is useful when students are using educational tools and technology, and it's important for them to know what data they’re giving out to people, what implications that might have, and how the data is being used. I think it’s important that students understand these concepts. There are a lot of future jobs within the technology industry, we want to make sure our kids are prepared, at least in knowing how everything works. 

What do you hope to get out of STEMpath?

I really hope to learn more about the foundational pieces of computer science. I'm really looking forward to learning more and sharing the knowledge with my students. 

Tell me a little bit about what you’re passionate about? What are your interests? What excites you? 

I'm really interested in how our kids are using technology and how they can use it to do great and amazing things. I'm also real big on the literacy piece and how kids can use technology to share love of books and a love of learning and how they can really integrate those two pieces that don't seem related, but they really can be. By combining reading, literacy and computer science and computer literacy, students have the basic tools and skills they need to learn and get excited about both learning and reading. We can reach more students and get further with some of our students this way. 

What are you looking forward to during this STEMpath year? 

I'm really excited about the summer work that we're going to do with the externships because I think so often our kids are always asking how is that ever going to apply in the real world? Seeing how things really are in the real world gives teachers the ability to share how the knowledge and skills apply to them and their futures. It’s important for educators to stay in education and we don’t get this experience. It's so, so useful to bring back to kids. 


Why do you think it’s important to broaden STEM participation with an underrepresented or underserved student population?

When it comes to STEM participation, and especially with some of our underserved and underrepresented students, I always think of my dad because he moved to United States at 6 from Mexico without knowing any English. He was able to learn it as well as to learn about the early pieces of technology when he was in high school. Technology is a level playing field because it has its own vocabulary, its own ways of doing things. When they're in a computer science classroom, kids who come from different backgrounds, with different interests, differences in what they're doing at home, and with the support that they have at home, often everyone is at the same level in the class. Maybe some kids have seen a particular technology before and some haven’t, but as they get more advanced and they're learning more, it's a conversation they can have that everybody can be talking about the same item, and they can all be working together. It really helps to give everybody the same chance to complete an activity and to make or create something.  


How do you think STEMpath will improve your school, your community, and what impact do you think it will have? 

When I think about STEMpath at the school and in the community where I live in the mountains, there are a lot of differences in the access that kids have when it comes to things like Wi-Fi and other technology at home. But when they’re in school, they’re all on the same Wi-Fi. They all have the same access. It’s important to try and make sure that we’re using that time as best we can while the students are in school, and they have access to the hardware and software that is available in school. By having more people who are ready to teach Computer Science we can really impact the largest number of kids possible. I’m really excited to go down the STEMpath, to learn more and, at the end to see what I learned and how I can best share it with not only students but with my colleagues as well. 

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