San Pasqual High Computer Science Teacher Erin Duran was recently awarded Code.org’s CS Leaders Prize of $10,000 to help establish Computer Science education for students.
The prize money will help bring an AP Computer Science course to students at the school.
The prize was awarded at the onset of Computer Science Education Week, December 5-9. Throughout the week, Computer Science students presented to their peers in other classes on the benefits of Computer Science. Following the presentations, students were given the opportunity to participate in an Hour of Code where they explored various coding projects. Twenty teachers and nearly 1,300 students participated.
Code.org, in partnership with DonorsChoose, selected 102 schools around the country for the CS Leaders Prize of $10,000 to help more students access Computer Science, especially those from underserved communities.
Mrs. Duran was the only California high school teacher to receive the prize. She has been a teacher for 23 years, 19 at San Pasqual High, and has taught Computer Science for the past six years. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Math and Spanish from San Diego State University and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Concordia University.
“I started teaching Computer Science because I was frustrated that many of my students who went on to pursue STEM degrees in college were ill-prepared,” said Mrs. Duran. “It’s no secret that people who pursue STEM degrees have more earning opportunities and potential. My students were at a disadvantage because they did not have coding experience or computer science backgrounds.”
An email from Code.org changed Duran’s professional track. The organization offered free training, free curriculum, and curriculum built for all students. They initially targeted math teachers to teach Computer Science principles to their students.
Half a dozen years later, Mrs. Duran has grown the program at San Pasqual High and works closely with her Computer Science colleagues at Escondido and Orange Glen high schools to provide increased opportunities and experiences for the district’s Computer Science students.
Currently, students at San Pasqual High can take Exploring Computer Science, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Computer Science A, and Data Science.
Students can also participate in the SuperNURDs FIRST Robotics program as well as the coding after school program. The school also has a Computer Science Honor Society where students can work alongside UC San Diego graduate students on research projects. A special emphasis is placed on making the Computer Science classes accessible to all students, including English Language Learners.
“We are proud to offer inclusive Computer Science classes at each of our comprehensive high schools,” said Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dr. Martin Casas. “Exposing our students to computer science principles helps them exercise logic and problem-solving, stimulates their imagination, and equips them with skills to pursue a career in well-paying technological fields.”