STEM/STEAM Teacher & Technology Integration Specialist, Fayetteville PK-8, Fayette County
As the first state to develop and introduce computer science learning standards for grades K-12, Cliff Sullivan said more are realizing our potential here in West Virginia.
“We are creating something that will help to propel West Virginia to the forefront of this industry. This is a new frontier for us to embark on that will help to transition us into a competitive market for potential business ventures,” Sullivan, a Technology Integration Specialist in Fayette County, said. “Our students have opportunities that none of us ever had growing up and I implore all students to take advantage of these programs. These are the skills of the future, and West Virginia is leading the way in developing them.”
As a Computer Science Fundamentals Facilitator for Code.Org, Sullivan said he relies on this partnership to create opportunities for both educators and students.
“WVU is our regional partner. They have been able to create opportunities for educators in our state to participate in professional development and trainings with Code.org facilitators like myself. Code.org gives funding to WVU, who in return sets up training sites, swag, meals, etc. The trainings are free for educators because of this partnership,” Sullivan said. “We were also the first state to roll out Computer Science Standards because of the amazing work of Code.org, WVDE, and CSWV. This movement has also created avenues for our students to pursue careers in computer science and STEM, and forged partnerships with leading industries in web design, robotics, and aerospace engineering.”
Sullivan said becoming a Code.org facilitator has changed his life. His teaching methods and instruction have improved, and he is able to introduce new and exciting learning opportunities for multiple grade levels.
“I have had the opportunity to interact and train hundreds of fellow educators. This has shown me the hunger and drive that most of my colleagues have for computer science and coding. Using what I have learned and facilitated over the past three years, I have been able to help develop a STEM/STEAM program in Fayetteville. We are now partnering with the Fayetteville CVB, the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, and Digital Relativity with a student-led PBL involving Social Studies, computer science/coding, and tourism,” Sullivan said. “Students have also been developing products for people with disabilities to make their lives easier. These products include apps, physical prototypes, and robotics designs and students are partnering with real people in our community. These community partnerships, and student learning opportunity, would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Code.org showing me the importance of computer science and equity in education.
Because technology is growing at a rate of 1000% since 2010, Sullivan said there is a nationwide shortage of coding and computer science workers to fill jobs within this growing business.
“By teaching computer science and STEM/STEAM concepts at a young age, we are going to be able to prepare our kids to be able to fill those positions and move our country forward into this century. The jobs that these students will be applying for when they graduate high school have not been created yet. That is a tough pill to swallow when it comes to preparing our nation’s children. Most of these jobs will require some aspect of computer science or coding, as well as problem solving and 21st century skills. It is very important to make sure we are filling our students’ toolboxes with these tools so that they can compete, adapt, and survive in our digitally driven future.”
Sullivan said he believes computer science and coding is the future of our world, and children deserve educators who could prepare them for that bright future. #CS4WV #CSEdWeek