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Mic Dropping (Again) at the White House

Posted by on in ShiftParadigm
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Never did I ever think there would be a 'part deux' to  blogging about speaking in The White House, until it happened again. Most people don't get invited to the White House, let alone twice. It's humbling, it's surreal, it's one of those experiences that you get to share with your kids and their kids.

About a month ago, I received an invitation from the Office of Science & Technology to attend both the #CSforAll forum and a PD session on what other districts from around the US and its' territories are doing. These meetings are the results of numerous initiatives from The President with the goal of getting computer science classes, programs, clubs, activities, or all of the above into all schools. While it sounds like a very broad and ambitious goal, it is. To give every student the skills needed in order to succeed in today's society has always been prized as a local initiative. However, when the President of the United States sets an initiative, you want to follow through on it, and use every resource you can.

The workshop in the AM was fantastic; it contained leaders, teachers, government officials, and students from around the country, US territories, and even Native American Tribes.  I got to hear about how uber-wealthy, dirt poor, gigantic, minuscule, districts had students writing code from grades K to 12. I heard about how a southern California high school  rolled out a series of CS classes; I heard how a school district of over 230 schools in Florida started an hour of code and turned it into a massive community outpouring.  I was floored with how a tribe in Oklahoma has Kindergarten students coding on the reservation. Meeting students where they are is an understatement.

The afternoon was a summit with national partners that highlighted students, companies, colleges, public & private schools, and the government have come together to promote computer science for all.   From the Girl Scouts to Megan Smith, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States, it was a fascinating afternoon.

The event was live on whitehouse.gov; you can watch the summit here:

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/hiZLuHfvvYI

We finished the day with a student exhibit in the Old Executive Office Building. Besides seeing our future working on computer science projects that would take me days to figure out, we were also treated to some White House cupcakes.  Hey, cupcakes are cupcakes, but are much cooler when the seal of the President is on them. 

Another fantastic day in the world of education.  Three takeaways from the day:

1. Computer Science is real, and it is easy for all ages. Like all things new, it takes a bit of time to adjust. CS classes are no longer "dehumanizing" (as one teacher from the forum put it) and can be injected into Kindergarten classes.

2. Socioeconomic factors are finally starting to 'not count' when it comes to trends in education. The fact that Native American Tribal schools are having kids from 5-15 should be a giant wake-up call to all blue-collar & white-collar school districts that say "they can't do that" or "we don't have the resources". Newsflash: they can, and the last time I checked, free resources don't cost anything.

3. Regardless of who becomes President next, this project will continue to move forward. It was adamantly clear that regardless of what happens in November, the star power and drive of so many Americans is clear;  computer science is a skillset for all learners and will only become more important as we move on in the future. 

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                                With Megan Smith, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States
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Jay Eitner is a proud product of the New Jersey public schools. A graduate from Union High School in 1997, Jay attended The American University in Washington DC with a BA in interdisciplinary studies. He began his teaching career in Roselle, NJ teaching a variety of subjects including social studies, computers, and digital literacy. Known for being ‘outside of the box’ and for strong technology infusion, Eitner strived to make a learning environment that was student centered, data driven, and technology infused. Jay received his Masters Degree from Kean University in 2004 and was hired to teach 8th grade social studies in the nationally recognized East Brunswick Public Schools. During his time in East Brunswick, Eitner has written & received over $140,000 in grants for his students. Grants ranged from podcasting equipment to creating a fully-interactive gold-rush experience, where students dug for gold during their westward expansion unit. Jay obtained his supervisor, principal, and school administrator certificates from the NJPSA NJ-EXCEL program in 2009. Administratively, Eitner has served as a middle school Assistant Principal in the Washington Township Schools , a K-12 Supervisor of Social Studies in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District, and a Superintendent of the Lower Alloways Creek School District. Jay currently serves as a Superintendent of Schools for the Waterford Township School District. He has presented a series of workshops on digital leadership, technology infusion, and student achievement. Recent awards include the 2015 national Educators Voice Award in the category of Superintendent, the White House MakerSpace distinction, and named to the national Academy of Arts & Sciences as a 2016 Educator To Watch.

Jay currently resides in Mount Laurel, New Jersey and is a proud Dad of twin girls and his puppy Lola.

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Guest Monday, 16 October 2017