Meet Educator Sue Reagin
August 25th, 2016
Nextech is on a mission to bring computer science education to K-12 classrooms throughout Indiana. Teachers like Sue Reagin are among our biggest champions to reach that goal and increase the number of Indiana students choosing to pursue a tech career upon graduation. Sue teaches Exploring Computer Science to freshmen, sophomores and seniors at Arsenal Technical High School’s Career Technology Center. She transitioned to teaching after 20 years as an industrial engineer in the automotive industry.
Sue is one of 70 teachers delivering CS curriculum to students this year through a professional development program with our partner Code.org. We recently sat down with Sue to find out what she loves about teaching and the importance of CS education.
Nextech: First things first, Sue, tell us why you transitioned from engineering to teaching.
Sue: I went into engineering because I was good in math and science and my [high school] counselor said to try it. During my engineering career, I saw many high paying jobs being outsourced. I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship, applied and got in. I taught Tech Ed at the middle school level for five years and now teach computer science at the high school level.
Nextech: What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Sue: Getting students excited about learning, especially students who think they can’t learn. With enough motivation and help students can learn anything.
Nextech: What background do you have in coding and CS?
Sue: I have taught digital literacy and programming with SCRATCH in two school districts. Students learn the same games/programs. Once I feel they are competent, they are allowed to write their own games within a set of criteria. Students love the criteria. I have also started VEX IQ robotics clubs at two different school districts. Robotics clubs are truly life-changing!
Nextech: What is your favorite class to teach?
Sue: I’ve taught several classes—Intro to CS, computer programming, robotics, computer literacy, math—and Intro to Computer Science is my favorite. It’s a great way to lead students into CS in a friendly and hands-on manner off the computer.
Nextech: You’re teaching ECS this year. What do you enjoy most about the class?
Sue: Fueling students’ excitement about programming and helping them understand they can have a successful, future career in it. It also is rewarding to explain to students that their favorite computer games and websites (like Pinterest!) happen because someone coded it.
Nextech: Why is CS education important?
Sue: All jobs are going to use CS. It should be a common competency for all of our students.
Nextech: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to other CS teachers?
Sue: If the lesson plan isn’t working for you as written, change it. We just did the computer buying project in ECS. The rubric was too confusing for students. Next time around, I will change it up and make it much simpler. Also, for the warm-up questions, I bought a composition notebook for each student. They keep track of their warm-up problems and journal in the notebook.
Nextech: Sue, what do you like to do when your teacher hat isn’t on?
Sue: I am a mom to three kids. My oldest just graduated from Purdue in Industrial Engineering and works for Lilly. My middle son is a nursing student at Purdue. My youngest daughter is a high school freshman and in marching band. I spend most of my “free time” going to marching band events. I also enjoy gardening, walking and HGTV.
Are you interested in becoming a CS champion like Sue? Contact us today to find out how you can bring the Code.org Computer Science program to your school or district.