Honoring CSTA’s Board of Directors

CSTA is proud to have a teacher-led Board of Directors that is focused on creating a strong environment to support our members. For the past 17 months, I’ve worked alongside these board members to reshape CSTA for growth through the launch of CSTA+ membership, introduction of a new website and member experience and expansion of the CSTA Annual Conference. 

As they rotate off of the CSTA Board of Directors, I’d like to thank these outgoing members for their years of dedication and service: 

David Benedetto, At-Large Representative

Doug Bergman, 9–12 Representative 

Bryan Twarek, School District Representative 

I’d like to congratulate K–8 Representative Vicky Sedgwick on her re-election to another term and to Jane Prey and Bobby Schnabel on their re-appointments. I’m glad that we’ll be able to continue the work that we’ve started together. 

With change comes new faces and fresh ideas to CSTA’s Board of Directors. Welcome to our newest members:  

Art Lopez,  9–12 Representative

Michelle Friend, At-Large Representative 

Dan Blier, District Representative 

As we begin a new fiscal year, I look forward to continuing to work with the Board to further CSTA’s mission.

Jake Baskin
Executive Director

Announcing the 2019 CSTA / Infosys Foundation USA Teaching Excellence Awards

  • “For years I never thought I was good enough”
  • “I wonder…am I doing this right”

These are quotes from our 2018 CSTA / Infosys Foundation USA teaching excellence award winners. A group of teachers that have not only made an outstanding impact within their own classrooms but also started new district wide programs; built engaging, strident led, inter-school partnerships; and lead the team revising the AP CS A exam! The truth is that even the most effective teachers find themselves facing doubt. Teaching is a HARD job, especially as a computer science teacher.

CSTA is here to make sure we take time to recognize the amazing work that’s happening in computer science classrooms across the country. This week we launched the application for the 2019 CSTA / Infosys Foundation USA Teaching Excellence Award with a few updates:

  • The application is split into two parts, making it easier to apply, and only requiring additional steps, like letters of recommendation after an initial review. We hope this will encourage more teachers to apply before that self doubt we all have creeps in.
  • We’ve doubled the number of awards, because there are so many outstanding teachers and we want to acknowledge them all.  Starting this year there will be five winning teachers and five honorable mentions.
  • You can now nominate a great teacher, encouraging them to complete the application and letting them know that you think they are an excellent computer science teacher.

The first round of the application is open through April 14 and shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to complete. For more information and to apply now visit the award page.


Jake Baskin
Executive Director CSTA


CS Ed Week Celebrations

This is my first CS Ed Week as Executive Director for CSTA and I am so excited about the progress our organization has made during my tenure. While CS Ed Week is about inspiring students to take an interest in computer science, it is also an opportunity to honor dedicated teachers fighting for all students to learn computer science.

At CSTA, we’re celebrating CS Ed Week with two very cool events — both of which are honoring dedicated educators — and by sharing some big announcements. Keep reading to learn about the big things happening at CSTA.

CS Ed Week Kickoff

I was honored to kickoff CS Ed Week at the University of Washington in Seattle to award the 2nd annual Champions of CS winners. Along with the founder and CEO of Code.org, Hadi Partovi, and Melinda Gates, we honored a student, teacher, district and an organization for their outstanding work in Computer Science. Congratulations to Jocelyn Marencik, Robert Defillippo, Chanel White, Seaside High School, Lincoln Public Schools, GirlsCodingWithGirls, and AccessCSforAll — you truly are champions of computer science.

CSTA Honors Chicago’s Computer Science Teachers

In collaboration with Chicago Public School’s CS4All, CSTA and our Chicago and Suburban Chicago chapters highlighted and honored computer science teachers in Chicago at our CSTA Night for Excellence in CS Teaching. Held at Google’s Chicago office, the event included networking opportunities and the presentation of outstanding teaching and administrator awards to deserving computer science champions.

Congratulations to Chicago Public Schools awardees, Stephen Tow from Goudy Technology Academy and Jennifer Roscoe from Lane Tech College Prep, on your achievements and your scholarships to the 2019 CSTA Annual Conference. You truly are champions for your students.

CSTA’s 2018 Administrator Impact Award Winner

Each year, CSTA opens nominations for our Administrator Impact Award to honor an educator who has made a significant impact to improve access to and the quality of computer science education.

I am so excited to announce the winner of CSTA’s 2018 Administrator Impact Award Winner — Barb Schwamman, Superintendent of Osage Community School District, and Superintendent of Riceville Community School District, in Osage and Riceville, Iowa.

In Osage, Superintendent Schwamman started the 2017–18 school year with zero computer science opportunities. Recognizing the importance of computer science, she added courses at both the middle and high school levels and supported the CS Fundamentals training of about 40 K-5 teachers. Schawmman is working to add new options in game development and cybersecurity. In Riceville, she is working toward the same successes she had in Osage. Schwamman proves that rural students can benefit, sustain and grow computer science opportunities.

Congratulations to Superintendent Schwamman! The CSTA family wishes her much success as she continues to expand computer science in her districts.

Infosys Grant

To commemorate this year’s CSEdWeek, Infosys Foundation USA is announcing several grants to support thousands of underrepresented and underprivileged students, young adults, and educators to learn about computer science through a combination of long-term programs as well as one-time coding events across the US.

I’m excited to announce CSTA as one of those grant recipients. This generous grant, in the amount of $150,000 will help support our initiative to grow CSTA+ membership, and more importantly, help support our 75 chapters.

Chapter Grants

From my first day at CSTA, I’ve told everyone who will listen that our chapters are the heart of our organization. I’m proud to announce the launch of CSTA’s chapter grant fund, which will make over $130,000 available to chapters interested in bringing professional development and programming to their regions. This more than meets our goal of putting 50% of CSTA+ dues back into supporting local CSTA chapters. Chapters leaders will receive more details later this week.

CSTA to take the CS Honor Society National

CSTA will be taking the CS Honor Society national for the 2019-20 school year! Launched by CodeVA, the CS Honor Society acknowledges academic excellence in CS disciplines — and the enthusiasm that surrounds it. Originally designed for Virginia high schools — with a growing number of out of state chapters — students must not only meet academic requirements but also must complete service hours in support of CS education. I am very excited about the expansion of this initiative and cannot wait to see its growth on the national level. Stay tuned for more information about getting involved.

2019 is shaping up to be a great year for CSTA. Thank you for all you do for your students, computer science education sphere and for your continued support of CSTA. I hope to see you all at the annual conference in Phoenix.


Jake Baskin
Executive Director CSTA

Celebrating CS Ed Week

This is my first CS Ed Week as Executive Director for CSTA and I am so excited about the progress our organization has made during my tenure. While CS Ed Week is about inspiring students to take an interest in computer science, it is also an opportunity to honor dedicated teachers fighting for all students to learn computer science.

At CSTA, we’re celebrating CS Ed Week with two very cool events — both of which are honoring dedicated educators — and by sharing some big announcements. Keep reading to learn about the big things happening at CSTA.

CS Ed Week Kickoff

I was honored to kickoff CS Ed Week at the University of Washington in Seattle to award the 2nd annual Champions of CS winners. Along with the founder and CEO of Code.org, Hadi Partovi, and Melinda Gates, we honored a student, teacher, district and an organization for their outstanding work in Computer Science. Congratulations to Jocelyn Marencik, Robert Defillippo, Chanel White, Seaside High School, Lincoln Public Schools, GirlsCodingWithGirls, and AccessCSforAll — you truly are champions of computer science.

CSTA Honors Chicago’s Computer Science Teachers

In collaboration with Chicago Public School’s CS4All, CSTA and our Chicago and Suburban Chicago chapters highlighted and honored computer science teachers in Chicago at our CSTA Night for Excellence in CS Teaching. Held at Google’s Chicago office, the event included networking opportunities and the presentation of outstanding teaching and administrator awards to deserving computer science champions.

Congratulations to Chicago Public Schools awardees, Stephen Tow from Goudy Technology Academy and Jennifer Roscoe from Lane Tech College Prep, on your achievements and your scholarships to the 2019 CSTA Annual Conference. You truly are champions for your students.

Congratulations to CSTA’s 2018 Administrator Impact Award Winner

Each year, CSTA opens nominations for our Administrator Impact Award to honor an educator who has made a significant impact to improve access to and the quality of computer science education.

I am so excited to announce the winner of CSTA’s 2018 Administrator Impact Award Winner — Barb Schwamman, Superintendent of Osage Community School District, and Superintendent of Riceville Community School District, in Osage and Riceville, Iowa.

In Osage, Superintendent Schwamman started the 2017–18 school year with zero computer science opportunities. Recognizing the importance of computer science, she added courses at both the middle and high school levels and supported the CS Fundamentals training of about 40 K-5 teachers. Schawmman is working to add new options in game development and cybersecurity. In Riceville, she is working toward the same successes she had in Osage. Schwamman proves that rural students can benefit, sustain and grow computer science opportunities.

Congratulations to Superintendent Schwamman! The CSTA family wishes her much success as she continues to expand computer science in her districts.

Infosys Grant

To commemorate this year’s CSEdWeek, Infosys Foundation USA is announcing several grants to support thousands of underrepresented and underprivileged students, young adults, and educators to learn about computer science through a combination of long-term programs as well as one-time coding events across the US.

I’m excited to announce CSTA as one of those grant recipients. This generous grant, in the amount of $150,000 will help support our initiative to grow CSTA+ membership, and more importantly, help support our 75 chapters.

Chapter Grants

From my first day at CSTA, I’ve told everyone who will listen that our chapters are the heart of our organization. I’m proud to announce the launch of CSTA’s chapter grant fund, which will make over $130,000 available to chapters interested in bringing professional development and programming to their regions. This more than meets our goal of putting 50% of CSTA+ dues back into supporting local CSTA chapters. Chapters leaders will receive more details later this week.

CSTA to take the CS Honor Society National

CSTA will be taking the CS Honor Society national for the 2019-20 school year! Launched by CodeVA, the CS Honor Society acknowledges academic excellence in CS disciplines — and the enthusiasm that surrounds it. Originally designed for Virginia high schools — with a growing number of out of state chapters — students must not only meet academic requirements but also must complete service hours in support of CS education. I am very excited about the expansion of this initiative and cannot wait to see its growth on the national level. Stay tuned for more information about getting involved.

2019 is shaping up to be a great year for CSTA. Thank you for all you do for your students, computer science education sphere and for your continued support of CSTA. I hope to see you all at the annual conference in Phoenix.


Jake Baskin
Executive Director CSTA

Tips for countering the November Blues

Tips for countering the November Blues

November was always a tricky month for me as a teacher — the weather turns towards winter, the clocks fall back so it’s dark before leaving school, and there were just enough random days off that it was impossible to get a rhythm going. Here are a few tricks I used to keep the energy through November and the end of the year:

Get away from the computers

By November patterns were set, students walked into class generally knowing what to expect, with a structure to class, and projects to work on. In general this sense of routine was great, all the administrative stuff could happen quickly, but that energy from the beginning of the school year was gone. To counteract this I’d always find time in November to do some work away from the computers. This was great for two reasons, first it would break that monotony in the classroom, and lessons like the CS unplugged curriculum forced everyone to approach computer science from a different lens, and ensure that the collaboration and communication strands of the CSTA standards were being hit. Second (and maybe more importantly) it was an opportunity to swap classrooms with another teacher in my school. I got to teach every day in a computer lab and there was always a colleague who was looking for computer time. With one creative lesson plan I’d shake things up in my class and make someone else’s day! When class registration time came around, these teachers were always willing to help promote my computer science classes :).

Coach a team or after school club

For me, November meant the start of a new high school basketball season, and a new opportunity to see my students in a different light. I’m not saying that everyone reading this should immediately start coaching, but we all can find ways to see our students engaging in a passion outside of the classroom. The hours we spent in practice, on the bus to away games or waiting on bleachers during tournaments gave me a chance to see my students in a more relaxed setting, and learn more about them as people. These stronger relationships payed huge dividends on those days when I felt especially exhausted and everything I had planned for class just didn’t work out.

Dedicate some time to real professional development

First quarter grades were due in November for me, and assigning grades was always my least favorite part of teaching. I think mostly because it made me confront all the things I had hoped to teach, but clearly had not succeeded at actually teaching to my classes. It also meant a “professional development” day dedicated to fighting the online grading system that ran slowest when every teacher in the district was using it at the same time. In order to keep from going insane, I’d make sure to dedicate some time on those days, even if it was just an hour, for some real, self directed, professional development. It could be reading an article, taking an online course, or reaching out to my PLN (in my case the local CSTA chapter) to see what cool new things they were trying in their classrooms.

If you’re a CSTA+ member, there are some amazing free resources included in your membership to take advantage of on this front — try a online course from Pluralisght, get professional development on using robots, or read the latest issue of Inroads magazine to see what’s new in CS education research. Plus, you’ll be able to secure your spot at the 20th anniversary of the CSTA conference before anyone else (and at last year’s early bird registration price!) Join or upgrade today at http://csta.plus.

So, what are your tricks for combating the November blues? Let me know on twitter @jakebask or @csteachersorg using #csta


Jake Baskin
Executive Director CSTA

Shout out to chapter leaders!

If you’re reading this blog you probably know that the CSTA annual conference happened last month in Omaha. It was my first conference as Executive Director and I had a blast! If you weren’t able to make it I hope you could engage in some of the community and conversations via #CSTA2018. What you may not know is that 70 chapter leaders from 30 states and Puerto Rico came together for a pre-conference leadership summit. The energy and excitement from this group of passionate leaders was infectious.

Amy Fox, Fran Trees, Ramsey Young, and Chinma Uche made up the amazing team of volunteer chapter leaders led the full workshop and they all deserve a huge thank you for their hard work (and willingness to put up with long video calls). At the end of the workshop we had a survey for feedback, and there was one key comment that stood out to me:

Meeting everyone and hearing that we are making progress in my state in comparison to other states. It made me feel good about what we have accomplished but also give me direction as to what still needs to be completed.

During my first six months at CSTA I’ve had the opportunity to connect with most of our chapter leaders, and over and over I’d hear about innovative programs, strong communities and passionate teachers. I’d also always hear some form of “I just don’t know if this is enough, what else should we be doing.” It’s an important reminder that just like teaching CS, volunteering to lead a chapter or pushing for policy change in your local context is often lonely work.

It’s so easy these days to turn every minute of a workshop, conference or chapter meeting into targeted programming with a specific outcome, yet whenever we look at feedback it’s clear that the most important learning happens when dedicated volunteers are given the opportunity to interact with each other. None of us live in a vacuum, and without constant opportunities to connect and hear about what’s happening across town or around the globe, we’ll never be able to level set. As an outcome of this summit we’ll be launching regular video calls for chapter leaders to connect and learn from each other throughout the year.

Remember, you’re not measuring yourself or your chapter against perfection (it’s an impossible bar to set) and as we dive into the next school year I hope you use your CSTA community as a way to level set and celebrate the little wins. Oh, and let your chapter leader know when they’re doing something great — they all made big plans and deserve much love for the work they do!

Jake Baskin, Executive Director

Big Wins for CS Policy in 2018

It’s been amazing to see the power of teacher voice finally getting the respect it deserves this spring. In states across the country teachers have come together to speak with one voice and policy makers have listened.

Although not as high profile, the same is true in the amazing policy gains for computer science education. Teachers across the country have come together to make sure their students have access to high quality computer science courses.

Just since January, 20 states have passed new laws or initiatives to support computer science, and many of those would not have happened without the the direct work of local CSTA chapters and members. I wanted to highlight three states where CSTA chapters and their leadership played a key role in this work:

  • Arizona
    Arizona CSTA president and state board of education member Janice Mak along with vice-president Brian Nelson have been a tireless champions for CS education. The chapter co-hosted a “Coding at the Capitol” event where students could program with state Senators. Thanks to their work with a coalition of leaders in the state, the Arizona Department of Education is developing standards for computer science education (I’ve got a great idea of where they can start) and the state funded $1 million for computer science education. I hope to see CSTA members participate in the standards writing process.

  • Hawaii
    The recently launched Hawaii CSTA chapter acted as a hub for the CS community to meet regularly was part of the larger CS coalition that encouraged the state board of education to adopt the CSTA standards. Many CSTA members were part of the state working group and were present when the Board adopted the new standards.

  • New Jersey
    The state’s new requirement that every high school teach computer science is the culmination of 5 years of grassroots advocacy from the three NJ CSTA chapters. They worked together to craft a policy vision for the state and built a steering committee that effectively communicated their vision to all stakeholders. Over that time they also changed policy for CS to count towards a math graduation requirement and update the state’s computer science standards. Next up is a bill the CSTA chapters helped draft that would create a new CS teaching endorsement.

These are just a few of the amazing stories that are the result of a teacher led movement. I’m so proud of the work that local CSTA chapters and members have done in the policy space, and if you’d like to be more involved in advocacy work consider engaging with our advocacy committee. There’s a wave of policy decisions to be made in computer science education and it’s essential we work together to ensure teacher voices are heard when these decisions are made.


Jake Baskin
Executive Director CSTA

A Message from CSTA Incoming Executive Director Jake Bastin

As the incoming Executive Director of CSTA, I’m thrilled to introduce myself to the greater CSTA community. Instead of vague generalizations and platitudes, I’d like to share a story about my first year teaching computer science, and the role CSTA played in my development as a teacher.

I’ll never forget room 225 at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, my first classroom. It had some quirks: desks bolted down to the floor, four fewer computers than my largest class, a heating system that required opening the windows every day of a Chicago winter. Most importantly it had 150 students who were ready to learn computer science with me, even if I wasn’t so sure I was ready to teach it.

In that building I found incredible support — a principal who knew computer science should be a core part of the school, colleagues that I still count among my closest friends, and the most creative, determined and fun students I could ask for.

The one thing I couldn’t find was another computer science teacher.

While I knew it was best to go along with the jokes and eye rolls when mandatory department meetings were held, what I really felt was jealousy. Everyone else had a time to discuss what content and practices were working, and get ideas on how to reach individual students. A group of coworkers that didn’t always have the answers, but at least understood the challenges everyone was facing.

Then I went to the first Chicago CSTA meeting of the year and discovered I had something better: a CS department that spanned the entire city and connected me to the latest ideas in teaching and learning computer science. I had finally found my team and was thrilled to begin working alongside them.

A lot has changed in the CS education world since I joined CSTA eight years ago—a wave of publicity around computer science education and shifting policies around the world—but the heart of the movement remains the same: dedicated teachers fighting for all students to learn computer science.

Our vibrant local chapters are the heart of this organization, and in my new role with CSTA I will focus on identifying and highlighting the most successful work happening at local chapters so we can spread those great ideas to all of our members. This starts with sharing—if your local chapter has something amazing planned, or an idea you need help executing, please let me know. You can always find me at jake.baskin@csteachers.org, and if you’ll be at SIGCSE say hi in person!


Jake Baskin
Incoming Executive Director, CSTA