Looking Back, Looking Ahead, and Thank You for the Honor of Serving CSTA

CSTA exists because of the work of a great many people and the support of computer science educators the world over who understand the importance of K-12 computer science education. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of CSTA, and it will also be my last year at helm of this organization. So it seems a fitting time to look at where CSTA has been and where it might be going.
ACM launched CSTA in 2004 as a result of recommendations from the ACM K-12 Task Force. This Task Force had taken on a number of critical projects, including the launching of the annual Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium and the development of the ACM Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science, which was created by a committee led by Allen Tucker. The Task Force felt, however, that supporting and improving K-12 computer science education would require something that other key disciplines already had; a professional association for K-12 practitioners.
In November 2003, ACM Director of Membership Lillian Israel and I put together a proposal for the ACM Executive Council. With support from ACM Chief Operating Officer Patricia Ryan and Chief Executive Officer John White and from high-level ACM volunteer leaders such as Maria Klawe and Stuart Feldman, the ACM Executive Council agreed to launch CSTA in January of 2004, and I was hired as the Executive Director.
Over the years, CSTA continued to evolve organizationally. By-laws were written, working committees were established, and the original Steering Committee transitioned to an elected Board of Directors. Robb Cutler served with distinction as CSTA’s first president, followed by Michelle Hutton, Steve Cooper, and now Deborah Seehorn who leads the volunteer side of the organization with enormous dedication and intelligence as the Chair of the CSTA Board of Directors.
CSTA also launched several projects that have deeply impacted K-12 computer science education. These projects included the Java Engagement for Teacher Training (JETT) program (also generously funded by ACM), which worked in partnership with universities to help teachers get ready for the Advanced Placement exam shift from C++ to Java, and the Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium, which has now become the CSTA Annual Conference. In April 2005, CSTA published the inaugural issue of the Voice, CSTA’s flagship member publication. In early 2006, CSTA also launched its regional chapter program, which today encompasses more than 50 chapters in 37 states and four Canadian provinces and fulfills the critical need for localized professional learning communities for teachers.
CSTA created and maintains the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, provides deeply relevant and effective peer-driven professional development for teachers, and disseminates critical information on K-12 computer science to the entire computer science education community. CSTA also conducts critical research on key issues such as shifting trends in computer science education, the presence of computer science content within state standards, teacher certification, and profound concerns of equity. In 2011, CSTA worked with ACM and Congressman Vernon Ehlers (MI) to launch the first Computer Science Education Week. More recently, CSTA has become deeply involved in state-level advocacy efforts, and many of CSTA’s members and leaders have been on the front lines of every win in every state to date.
I think it would be fair to say that there is not a single K-12 computer science initiative in this country (and other countries as well) that has not benefited directly from CSTA and its many dedicated volunteers. This is something in which every CSTA member can take great pride.
In the last year we have seen the pay off for much of CSTA’s early work. Public interest in computer science education has never been so high. Coalitions of powerful education and industry allies are working together to change educational policy. Great research is underway. And teachers now have access to unprecedented opportunities for professional development. K-12 computer science education is an overnight sensation more than 10 years in the making.
So what of the next 10 years? Like any truly great organization, CSTA continues to evolve and change as the needs of educators and their students do the same. But as long as computer science is taught in schools, there must be a peer-driven professional organization that does the countless things needed to ensure that it remains relevant, supported, and strong.
I recently submitted my resignation as Executive Director of CSTA, and May 23, 2014 will be my last day. I will be moving on to my new role as a Computer Science Education Program Manager at Google where I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of the computer science education community.
I want to convey to CSTA’s leaders and members my deepest thanks for allowing me the honor of serving CSTA. I have always known that CSTA was more than the sum of its parts and very much more than one person. CSTA has the respect of the computer science education community and the confidence of its members because it has always lived its vision and celebrated teachers as the true agents of change. CSTA has also been a force for greater understanding and collaboration across all educational levels.
I know that CSTA will continue to grow and thrive because it has strong and capable leadership and the most dedicated volunteers I have ever met.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this marvelous organization and this discipline that I love so very much.
Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

10 thoughts on “Looking Back, Looking Ahead, and Thank You for the Honor of Serving CSTA

  1. Thank you Chris for all you have done, not only for CSTA, but for Computer Science programs, teachers & students! Best of luck in your new role!

  2. Thank you so much for your leadership and dedication to computer science education. Good luck!

  3. Thank you for your leadership. As a charter member, CSTA has been a great help in my professional life. I have attended the JETT trainings at Columbia University, CSTA conference in Philadelphia, and have benefited from the many publications that CSTA has published in my quest to get Computer Science reinstituted in my High School. CSTA, through your leadership, has been very influential in the development of Computer Science on the K-12 level. Thank you and good luck at Google!

  4. Congratulations on your new position with Google! Thank you for all of your hard work with CSTA over the last 10 years.

  5. Chris – Thank you so much for all you have done for the community. I have appreciated your work very much over the years, and you have been an outstanding advocate for all the members of CSTA. Google is acquiring a tremendous resource, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of your labor in this new endeavor.

  6. Chris,
    We could not have had a better leader! Thank you for all your hard work and bringing this organization to the fore. Best wishes in your new role. They are lucky to have you on the Google team.
    Todd Ullah, Administrator of Instruction, LAUSD

  7. Chris,
    I just started doing CS a year ago and this list server has been awesome. Your work is much appreciated.
    Good luck at your new position.

  8. Hi Chris: thanks for all your dedicated work. Congrats from Toronto on your new position.

  9. Chris,
    Thank you for all of your work in making CSTA a reality! Here in Chicago much of the success we have had has been built on the foundation of having been able to form a CSTA group to give us an identity.

  10. Congratulations on the next phase of your career, Chris. Still have fond memories of working with you when I was on the ISTE Board of Directors and we worked on the SIGCT. Your new position debunks the adage that nice people finish last … because your #1.

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