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Celebrating The Women Changing BootUp for Women's History Month

March 31 2021 · By The Women of BootUp

At BootUp, there are many brilliant and inspirational women changing the face of education and technology. Throughout the years, women have broken glass ceilings and paved the way for younger generations to pursue their dreams.

This month we highlight, board members, associate executive director, facilitators, and all the women at BootUp striving to make a positive change for teachers and students nationwide.

Learn more about the women at BootUp, why they entered the education or tech space, what inspires them, and words of wisdom for the next generation of women leaders.

Allison Miller
BootUp PD, Board Member

"I am currently a board member at BootUp PD. I joined in January of 2017 as a consultant helping with curriculum development and was immediately taken by how inspiring the work was.

I went into the field of education because of the impact my high school teachers had on me. I wanted to have that same kind of influence on students. I'm inspired by people who work hard and find time to do what ignites the fire in them."

Abby Funabiki
BootUp PD, Associate Executive Director

"I'm the Associate Executive Director at BootUp. At BootUp, I'm lucky enough to work with school districts across the country as they implement district-wide computer science for all initiatives. I spend time learning about each district and doing what I can with our team to support their computer science vision.

I know education can sometimes seem like an overused solution to any problem! But I really think supporting public education can make all the difference. Plus, nonprofit people and educators are great people to surround yourself with! Everyone cares!

I didn't know much about computer science or coding until more recently! I've always felt strongly about the digital divide but didn't connect the dots. This IS the current digital divide until CS for ALL was implemented at my school district.

I am super passionate about public education - and equitable access to computer science, to me, is a civil rights issue affecting public education."

Emilie Martinez
BootUp PD, Web Developer

"As a kid, I loved solving logic problems and thinking through things, which is really what got me thinking about tech! If I would say anything to a younger Emilie it would be, find your fuel, and every time someone says you can't do anything, know that you can -- I believe in you!"

Brenda Bass
BootUp PD, PD Facilitator

"I taught in the classroom for seven years. I then decided to become a computer technologist and teach technology application skills in K-6. I knew I could make a difference in this area, and it was a perfect fit to incorporate CS/Coding. I'm inspired by Temple Grandin, as I love her perspective that "The World Needs All Kinds Of Minds." I try to incorporate this motto in everything I do. It really doesn't matter if you are Gifted and Talented, an average student, or have a learning disability - all can be successful. I would tell my younger self, don't worry about being a perfectionist. Getting started and having productive struggles will help and be more beneficial in the long run."

Lien Diaz
BootUp PD, Board Member

"I'm so pleased to be the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at BootUp PD. This is my second year on the Board, and I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing how BootUp PD has flourished. It is a fantastic organization with a critical mission to provide quality CS teaching and learning starting in elementary schools across the most underserved communities in America. It's an experience students will not forget. I'm super proud to be a part of this Board of Directors.

While working in the Advanced Placement Program at College Board, conversations with the National Science Foundation raised tons of questions about the inequity crisis in CS education. I then became one of the Principal Investigators on NSF funded projects that led to the creation of the AP Computer Science Principles course and exam-- a course that many of us know has propelled access to quality computer science education to many more students in our country. I led a national pilot program over several years and helped create a strong community of AP CSP teachers and an amazing network for teacher support. Now at the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing at Georgia Tech, I focus on comprehensive systems approaches to democratize computing education. It's about challenging the status quo such that minoritized groups are NOT critically disadvantaged in an increasingly advanced digital society.

For International Women's Month, I'd like to highlight two women that I've been mesmerized by:

  • We don't speak enough of Tu Youyou. She is a Chinese pharmaceutical chemist who discovered a cure for malaria. She finally received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015.

  • Malala Yousafzai. As one of the most prominent world activists for girls' education, she proves that young women can inspire generations. She survived an assassination attempt, speaks her truth, and has not stopped working to help girls worldwide get an education.

If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to understand that some "failures" are born from circumstances out of your control. I lost an undergrad scholarship because I couldn't keep up with my engineering projects since I worked three jobs. The scholarship only covered part of my school expenses, and I was on my own. I was hard on myself for a very long time. Still, that failure actually steered me into becoming a math and science teacher, and the rest is her-story."

Kelly Powers
BootUp PD, PD Facilitator

"I am a PD Facilitator working on a special grant with BootUp, WeTeach, and the Robin Hood foundation to provide professional development to teachers in grades K - 8 in three New York city schools.

I have been using the ScratchJr Curriculum that is publicly available on bootuppd.org to engage teachers in exploring CS and learning the tool ScratchJr. Teachers explore the ScratchJr online coding as another language curriculum and create their own slide decks to teach the lesson to their students. They love exploring with the projects on the bootuppd.org website and reverse engineering them as they collaborate and learn new problem solving skills.

I joined the industry after taking two programming classes in college. The professor engaged our class in challenging and real-world projects. After 14 years in Large Systems Computing, I joined the education workforce. I got my Master's in Teaching Math and started teaching Computer Science (CS) in grades 6 - 12.

The one leader that I credit my professional growth to is Dr. Chris Stephenson, former Executive Director of CSTA. With a small army of champions, she engaged teachers in advocating for state and local CS education changes by developing teachers' skills. She led local CSTA chapters across the country to commit to CS for All when it wasn't nearly as popular as it is today.

I would say take more coursework in data science. Data is so interesting and having skills to ask questions, analyze, and share data findings is not only enjoyable but applicable and necessary in every profession."

Laurie Green
BootUp PD, PD Facilitator

"I am a Professional Development Facilitator and Moodle Administrator at BootUp and joined in June of 2020.

While getting my Master's at Cleveland State, I was introduced to Logo and Lego Data. I had never thought about programming as a tool for students before. The possibilities were endless of what students could create, program, gather data, and more. As a result, I coached Lego League for several years. Learning Robolab and LabView. I was as excited as the kids. I often stayed up late teaching myself more and building. My husband said at the time, "This has released the secret engineer in you." From that point on, I knew I wanted to make sure every student, especially girls, had exposure to this environment. Especially at a young age - that coding was a possibility for them and not a secret.

My mother inspires me. She always said women were treated like second-class citizens, and that was not right. Women are smart and strong too. (paraphrasing) She was a very independent and strong person in many ways. I don't think she realized how much her observations about women in society and the workforce, which she routinely would comment on out loud, influenced me. While some would comment to my mother that she complained, my mom would say, "Just stating a fact."

My other inspiration is Teddy Roosevelt, who lived his life to the absolute fullest, never backed down from his beliefs, and family always came first.

I would tell my younger self, Don't let others ever tell you what you are good or not good at or what you were "meant" to be or do in life. You are the driver of your life, no one else. Follow your passions, what you enjoy, what you feel your good at, and the rest will fall in place as it was meant."

Heather Cunningham
BootUp PD, PD Facilitator

"I am a professional development facilitator, and I was fortunate to join the team in August of 2020.

I grew up around computer science and technology and have always loved to tinker. I became a teacher because I saw the need for change and wanted to make a difference in the world of education. I am inspired by those individuals who have made a difference in the fight for equity in education, including: Ibram X. Kendi, Zarretta Hammond, Stacey Abrams, Michelle Obama, and many others. Believe in the work you are doing, and you will always be on the right path."

Karen Melara
BootUp PD, Marketing Manager

"I'm the marketing manager at BootUp PD, and I joined in early 2020. I got into education because of a firm belief that our youth are our future. Each child should have access to education no matter where they are or where they come from. Many people and things inspire me. At BootUp, witnessing the direct impact my peers have on students' lives inspires me every day. I would tell my younger self to always follow your gut. A wise person once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Trust yourself; you are brighter than you give yourself credit for. You are a treasure, and those around you will find out soon enough."

Stacie Mason
BootUp PD, Research and Evaluation Consultant

"I have been a research and evaluation consultant for BootUp PD since November 2019. I got into CS education as a graduate student after taking an introductory coding class and then working on a project where I helped elementary school teachers prepare to use programmable toy robots with their students. I'm inspired by dedicated teachers who have been working overtime to help their in-person and online students."

Women's History Month 2021
BootUp PD

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