Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Volunteer Named a White House “Champion of Change”

Karen North (right) at Spring Branch Middle School during the Hour of Code.
Karen North, a retired teacher who promotes computer science and programming at the district and state level, was one of nine people nationwide named as a national “Champion of Change” during a White House ceremony held on Tuesday.

Champions of Change website >>
Read Computer Science for All on White House blog >>

Nine individuals, including North, were recently selected by the White House for their leadership and innovation in helping to broaden access to computer science, programming and computational thinking. The White House views such technical education as essential to the nation’s ongoing global competitiveness and security.

The nine “White House Champions of Change for Computer Science Education” were  honored Jan. 26 during a White House-based program that 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 (second from left) and Karen Justl (second from right) attend the White House Champions of Change for Computer Science Education, starting Jan. 26.

“What an honor to be selected as a Champion of Change. I thank all those who have been part of my adventure, as they are my champions,” said Karen North, who started teaching math in 1985 and enhanced her lessons by coding with Logo and BASIC on an Apple IIE and Texas Instruments (TI) calculator.

“I experienced how coding helped students build problem-solving skills. That started my journey advocating in public and political forums for increased educational opportunities,” she said.

North planned to attend the White House ceremony with her son. Also attending was her White House guest Karen Justl, SBISD’s Educational Technology interim director.

In addition to other areas of computer science interest, Karen North helped support the district’s Hour of Code programming events last fall for students. She promotes student programming activities and learning across a variety of programs.

“My main goal is to continue to open up the world of computational thinking for every student in Spring Branch ISD through code.org workshops, Hour of Code events, Code Camps, training Code Buddies and the West Harris County Branch AAUW Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics Conference for middle school girls,” she said in a prepared statement.

Karen North (back row, second from right) with AAUW group
SBISD’s Justl nominated North for her volunteering work as a retired educator and as an “involved grandmother.”

“Karen works tirelessly to advance computer science education across the state of Texas and beyond,” Justl said in her nomination to the White House. “She advocates in public and political forums . . . and will assist districts and private schools in any way to move computational thinking and computer science forward in our schools.”

A year ago, President Barack Obama became the first President to write a line of programming code. In his recent State of the Union address, he issued a national call to expand computer science in all classrooms from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Other White House Champions of Change who will be honored today:
  • Cordell Carter II, Chattanooga, Tenn., CEO of TechTown Foundation Inc.
  • Andrea Chaves, Astoria, N.Y., a Spanish and computer science teacher
  • Grace Clark, New Orleans, La., high school sophomore and Operation Spark student intern
  • James Forde, Stamford, Conn., a seventh-grade science teacher
  • Christina Li, Macomb, Mich., high school senior who created Hello World, a computer science day camp for middle school girls
  • Andreas Stefik, Las Vegas, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Jane Margolis, Los Angeles, Calif., researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
  • Angelica Willis, Greensboro, N.C., a computer science student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University


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