The Computer Science Teachers Association is now 15 years old. I’ve been a member from the start and I have to say that in some ways it feels like it has always been there but in other ways it feels like it just started. There was a K-12 computer science education community before CSTA. But it was small and one could easily feel alone. CSTA brought a new sense of community and togetherness. Most of all, perhaps, it brought us organization and a stronger sense of belonging.
There was the CS & IT Conference (now called the CSTA Annual Conference) before CSTA as well but it didn’t have the same feeling of permanence and sustainability that CSTA brought to it. CSTA brought growth and strength to the conference. It’s been the annual highlight of my professional development for years now. Presenting at several of these conferences has been a huge privilege and honor. And added to my learning as well.
After I left industry some years ago I ran for and won a seat on the CSTA Board. What a wonderful experience those four years were. Hectic as we changed Executive Directors during that time. It was a real time of transition. That wasn’t as smooth as many of us would have liked and I think we experienced some growing pains during those years. We’re on our third ED now but things seem to be well on track. Kudos to the Board (after me) who lead the way through the last couple of years and another ED transition. We have an amazing board at CSTA who work very hard for the membership.
The growth of chapters has been a big part of the CSTA story. Fairly early on, CSTA developed programs to train and prepare chapter leaders and that has paid off in spades. There are more and stronger chapters than ever before. CSTA is both national AND local and that is important.
CSTA has helped train advocates among teachers and support them locally. CSTA members have advocated, lobbied, pushed, and otherwise promoted CS in their states, counties, school districts, and yes even nationally. Some of the companies and other groups get a lot of credit for the growth in computer science education in the US but the real heroes are individual teachers who alone or with other CSTA members did the ground work to make things happen.
From conferences to board membership to involvement with committees and connections with life long friends CSTA has been an important part of my life. I can’t wait to see what the next fifteen years bring.