St. Louis Catholic Librarian & Technology Coach Melanie LeJeune (middle row, fifth from left) and IBCA/Personal Finance Teacher Ashley Lavine (middle row, second from right) at McNeese State University’s Code.org training in June 2019.

During the week of June 17, McNeese College of Engineering and Computer Science through the McNeese-Code.org partnership held its second Local Summer Workshop at the Calcasieu Parish Technology Training Center in Lake Charles, and St. Louis Catholic faculty members Melanie LeJeune and Ashley Lavine attended in preparation to teach a Computer Science Discoveries class in the 2019-2020 school year.

This workshop prepared Louisiana middle and high school teachers to teach computer science using the Code.org curriculum and philosophy, and the program will continue with four additional Saturday workshops at approximately 7-8 week intervals during the academic school year.

“STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) is so important because no matter what you end up doing professionally, the STEM skills you learn in school will only help you grow as a problem solver, and learning a little bit of programming will help you grow in whatever profession you choose,” LeJeune said.  “It helps you move from just being a consumer to being a creator!”

Dr. Catherine Anderson, the regional program manager, said this is the first year Louisiana has had a regional parter, whose main responsibility is to organize these workshops and recruit local school districts to not only send their teachers to the workshop but also to offer the computer science classes in their school.

“We welcomed teachers from all across the state – from Caddo Parish in the northwest to Orleans Parish in the southeast, not to mention having eight teachers from right here in Calcasieu Parish,” Anderson said in a press release.  “Some teachers have been waiting for years for these workshops, and the fact that this was the first one held in Louisiana is the reason teachers traveled to Lake Charles from across the state.  In the future, McNeese will take the workshops to different parishes. Later this summer and next year we will be offering workshops in Baton Rouge, Alexandria and New Orleans.”

McNeese-Code.org partnership is the only code.org partnership available for teacher training in Louisiana. The funding for the workshops, teacher training and travel assistance is provided by code.org through a three-year grant received by Anderson, Dr. Seyed Aghili and Dr. Nikos Kiritsis at McNeese.

LeJeune said students enrolled in St. Louis Catholic’s Computer Science Discoveries Class should expect a very hands-on, active class.

“Students will learn the design process, HTML, and JavaScript in order to create interactive e-cards, a personal website, an app, and more,” said LeJeune, St. Louis Catholic’s technology coach and librarian.  “Last year, we had all boys in our classes.  I would love to see girls take this class because girls are creators and problem solvers, too!”

Said Kiritsis, the Executive Director of STEM programs at McNeese: “As more students are exposed to computing, coding and computer science in their primary and secondary education, we will see more students enrolling and majoring in STEM programs here at McNeese and other Louisiana universities, helping to alleviate the shortage of qualified applicants for the growing number of STEM job offered by our local and regional industries.”

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