A simple phrase known to perhaps every computer science teacher and student today. Two words that can say so much. Translated across many languages (human and computer), the phrase is a universal starter when learning something new.
A Mission That Matters.
In today’s world the need for us all to keep learning something new has moved beyond nicety to necessity. Analytics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Everything, and other outgrowths of computing will continue to accelerate the pace of knowledge creation and societal change across the globe. Computational technology is increasingly ubiquitous, and yet few people understand what goes on inside the black box. Computers remain mysterious to many, and technology advances so quickly today that even those of us comfortable with technology can become overwhelmed by keeping up.
Computer Science is emerging as the lingua franca of the evolving world. However, Code.org reports that the percent of students graduating with a degree in computer science is less today than a decade ago. At the same time, Crain’s New York Business observed that fewer than one in eight public schools in New York City have a computer science teacher. As Jane Margolis argues in her research, access to this universal language is fundamental to future prosperity and participation in society.
The imperative for stronger educational opportunities and access in the computing disciplines continues to grow. Making that access happen requires many other things to happen as well. High on that list are meaningful and standards-based education and credentialing for teachers, making Computer Science count toward graduation, and establishing economically sustainable models to maintain and grow the quality of educational opportunities in computer science for both teachers and students.
Who am I?
My name is Dr. Mark R. Nelson. I am excited and honored to be joining CSTA’s leadership team as its new Executive Director in a few weeks. I am looking forward to getting to know the community, and as you may discern from the opening above, I believe CSTA has a mission that matters and that together we can positively affect the lives of many teachers and students. As a very mission-driven individual, that inspires me.
On a personal level, I am 46. I have an alphabet soup of credentials behind my name that reflect an ongoing passion for learning and education. My Myers-Briggs type would place me as a strong INTJ. Those who know me often use the words “thought leader, relationship builder, strategist, collaborative, and creative” to describe me. Most also comment on my penchant to blend academic theory and practical experience when problem solving. I enjoy the analytical process of finding meaningful stories in a set of data, and the socially creative process of collaborative problem solving.
A Future Vision.
While I have a vision for CSTA’s future, I am cognizant of the fact that I am new to the community. Thus, over the next few months, I am looking to hear from many of you regarding your vision for CSTA. Together we must unify around a clear articulation of who CSTA is as a community and how we build upon our prior successes to make lasting, sustainable, positive, and meaningful impact for our members and society.
As an association, CSTA is entering its second decade – the teen years. The organization has benefited from terrific leadership and experienced impressive growth over the past decade. However, there is more to be done and we must continue to evolve. This may mean re-evaluating some practices and policies, and finding new ways to enable engagement for all members of the CSTA community.
I am grateful to be joining a community where, like Seussian Whos, there is a fantastic story to be told and tell it we must. I am eager to hear more of that story, and share it with others. Please join us in July at our meeting in Dallas, as we learn something new, build relationships, and share stories.
Finally, a personal note of thanks to the search committee for their hard work, and to Lissa Clayborn, both for her substantive contributions as Acting Executive Director and for taking on the role of Deputy Executive Director and COO for CSTA. We have complementary skills and a shared belief in the potential for CSTA to fulfill its mission.
Having gone on too long, I will end my introduction as I began, with two simple words that can say so much: “Hello, World!”