CSTA Reboots to Support Computer Science Educators


Art Lopez and Dr. Beth Simon (third and fourth from left) with members of UC San Diego’s “CS foreach” student organization at the January CSTA session at Liberty Station.

We live in a time of face-recognition iPhones, virtual reality experiences and artificial intelligence. Consider this: In 2011, only 10 percent of San Diego County high schools offered computer science courses to students. Fast forward to 2018, where 40 percent of area high schools have implemented computer science curriculum. To support and promote CS momentum in schools, a group of computer science leaders gathered last month to relaunch the local Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).

CSTA San Diego, a network of CS educators committed to “creating a village of support” for CS instructors, has partnered with UC San Diego’s Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) through the CREATE STEM Success Initiative to help build a more robust organization for area computer science teachers.

The professional development and informational kick-off session, held at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens at Liberty Station, was led by area computer science champions from K-12 schools and higher education. The message to 65 enthusiastic CSTA attendees: We are here for you.

“The bottom line for relaunching the CSTA is to provide a space where CS teachers can support each other as more schools and districts implement and imbed Computer Science curriculum,” said Art Lopez, CSTA-San Diego Chapter president. Lopez, Computer Science curriculum specialist for Sweetwater Union High School and teacher at Sweetwater High School, has been at the forefront of advancing CS education in schools.

“CSTA’s mission – that all children have access to learning this important subject that affects their lives each day – aligns with CREATE’s goals for equity education. I consider this re-boot of our organization and partnership with CREATE an exciting, new beginning.”

Lopez then introduced the new CSTA board members:

  • Angela DeaMude, Mathematics teacher, Chaparral High School, CSTA High School Representative,
  • Daniel Pearson, Computer Science teacher, Castle Park High School, CSTA High School Representative,
  • JC Morris. Science teacher, Knox Middle School , CSTA Middle School Representative,
  • Anthonette Pena, Director, Elementary Institute of Science, CSTA Elementary School Representative,
  • CorriAnne Burgess, GIS and AP Computer Science Principles teacher, Kearny High School, CSTA at-large Representative,
  • Susan Yonezawa, Associate Director, Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (CREATE), UC San Diego,
  • Jeff Sale, San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego, Computer Science instructor, Cuyamaca College,
  • Minh Mai, Communications Specialist, CREATE, UC San Diego, CSTA Publicist.

Anthonette Pena and CorriAnne Burgess (above) presented the CSTA goals and encouraged dialogue among session attendees.

“These are the goals the board has agreed to, but what do you as participants want? What are your goals?” Burgess asked. “We want all of our meetings to look like this – you’re coming for something worthwhile.  What do you want to get out of a group like this?” Each chapter goal was posted around the room and attendees provided ideas about how to reach each goal.

Afterward, attendees broke into groups for a “speed dating” activity to find out quickly from each other:

  • What they hoped to get out of CSTA
  • Something in CS they would like to learn and teach their students
  • Something “cool” about CS

Next, Lopez and Professor Beth Simon from UC San Diego presented an overview of the CS Standards. “If you’d like to read the standards, they’re not fun,” joked Simon. “But for some reason, lots of people like to come to our standards presentations.”

Simon previously was a Teaching Professor in UC San Diego’s Computer Science and Engineering Department but moved to the Department of Education Studies when her interest shifted from teaching computer science, to teaching how to teach computer science in the classroom.

Simon is a frontrunner in online Computer Science credentialing and instruction and has developed “Teaching Computation in the Digital World,” an online class with current enrollment of 40 UC San Diego students and 30 students from other UC campuses.

The remainder of the evening featured information on CSTA partners and resources:

Participants also viewed welcome videos from Mica Pollock, CREATE Director and Professor in the Department of Education Studies at UC San Diego and Kevin Wang, MEd, founder and “ringleader” of TEALS (Technology and Literacy in Schools). To view the videos, see the meeting slide deck on the CSTA Events page.

Ray Kinne, San Diego High School Computer Science teacher and CSTA Teacher of the Year 2017 (National level), demonstrated an entertaining way to teach students about computer sorting using a deck of cards.

“We know being a computer science teacher can sometimes be a lonely endeavor,” said Susan Yonezawa in a closing statement. “The purpose of tonight was to bring you this robust program and to let you know you are not alone. With CSTA connections, you have your colleagues in this room to reach out to afterwards if you need support for lesson planning or with other CS-instructional issues. Based on social science research, educational systems get stronger with reciprocal relationships.

Seven years ago, a brave group of San Diego educators decided to bring CS education into our schools. We now encourage you to work with your districts, to ask them what their plans are for CS in the coming year and to know CSTA San Diego and UC San Diego’s CREATE are behind you to encourage and support your efforts. As a CSTA partner, we’re happy to partner with you,” Yonezawa said. “So, reach out to CSTA and CREATE if you need anything – that’s why we’re here tonight.”


The San Diego Computer Science Teachers Association is a local chapter of the international Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). CSTA is part of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the oldest and largest computer-based organization in the world. In 2010, the San Diego CSTA formed a partnership with the UC San Diego Supercomputer Center for Education to implement a NSF grant piloting the impending AP Computer Science: Principles course.  CSTA is also a partner with CREATE  through the CREATE STEM Success Initiative.

For more information about CSTA, contact Art Lopez, CSTA president, or Susan Yonezawa, CREATE associate director and CREATE STEM Success Initiative Network Coordinator.

To learn more about CSTA, visit the website. To view the session slide deck presentation, visit the Events page. To receive information on future CSTA meetings and learning opportunities, sign up here.

Twitter: @CSTASanDiego