President Obama’s Computer Science for All announcement contained a familiar face for many computer science educators in Texas. Computer science advocate Karen North appeared in a section called Policymaker Spotlights. Not surprising, as she was recently named one of the White House’s Computer Science Champions of Change.
Each Champions of Change event features a group of Americans–individuals, businesses and organizations–who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. This edition of the Champions of Change, featured nine students, teachers, and community members all working to improve computer science education in their community. For Karen, the honor included being invited to Washington D.C. on January 26, 2016 to meet with her fellow CS Champions of Change, members of the administration, and other experts for a roundtable discussion of problems and solutions facing computer science education in America.
Karen, who serves as part of the Center for STEM Education’s Computer Science “Brain Trust”, was joined at the White House event by Dr. Carol Fletcher, Deputy Director of the Center for STEM Education and founding member of the Texas Computer Science Task Force . The task force called for a greater emphasis on CS education in Texas schools. This initial advocacy, with the help of educators like North, turned into the TRC CS Network, an ongoing program of professional development and resources for CS teachers and future CS teachers in Texas.
“Karen was instrumental in connecting the dots with everyone in the state who is working on computer science education,” said Fletcher. “Without her tireless advocacy and persistence, Texas would not be the leader in CS education that it is today.”
The program to honor the Computer Science Champions of Change included remarks by Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the President; John King, U.S. Dept. Of Education acting secretary; Megan Smith, the U.S. chief technology officer; Gillian Jacobs, actress/director; and Meredith Walker, a co-founder and executive director of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls.
Karen North is a retired computer science and math teacher from Houston, TX and has been an advocate for Computer Science education since 1985. She has fought to keep computer science certification for teachers and played an integral part in increasing programming and computational thinking in the K-8 Texas math standards. She now serves as a Code.org affiliate, a Code Buddy for Spring Branch Independent School District and a volunteer with the American Association of University Women, the National Center for Women & Information Technology, and the International Society for Technology Education Computing Teachers Network, among others.
- TRC CS Network
- Computer Science For All Initiative
- Champions of Change – from Karen North’s blog
- Volunteer Named a White House “Champion of Change” (Profile of Karen North)