Piloter Introductions


Introduce yourself to the other piloters. Some questions you may want to consider answering to introduce yourself:

  • Why are you excited to be a piloter?
  • Where are you from?
  • The most ridiculous story from your class this year :smile:
  • What’s your CS background?
  • What is the most fun part of computer science?
  • Are you currently involved with another Code.org program as a teacher or facilitator?


Check out where everyone is from!


Hi Everyone! I’m Dani McAvoy. I work at Code.org as an Education Program Manager. I’m part of the Computer Science Discoveries writing team along with @josh and @gtwrobel.

We are all very excited to have you join us. We know that a huge part of curriculum writing is testing out the curriculum. We feel so lucky to have an amazing group of teachers who are going to give us high quality feedback. Together we will make CS Discoveries a really strong curriculum.

I’m located in Portland, Maine. After graduating from Bowdoin College with a degree in Computer Science and Math Education, I spent a couple years teaching computer science to middle school and high school students before joining the Code.org team. I’ve kinda had my hands in every part of the Code.org experience. From being a K-5 facilitator, managing our ECS program, to helping to write CS Principles, and now CS Discoveries - I’ve gotten to know the full sequence of Code.org courses pretty well.

I don’t have any funny classroom stories this year as I haven’t got to spend as much time in a classroom as I would like to. However my favorite part of computer science is definitely the creative problem solving. I love trying to debug code, both my own and others. Its super satisfying to me. I also love that end product of computer science is creative and nobodies work looks the same.

I can’t wait to get to know all of you!



Hey all, Josh Caldwell here. I too am an Education Program Manager at Code.org. Computer Science Discoveries has been rattling around my head since I joined Code.org almost two years ago, and I’m ecstatic to see it come to life in your classrooms.

I live in sunny Seattle where I work out of our main office downtown. I came to Code.org from teaching Computer Science and Robotics at a Junior High out in suburbs of Seattle. Though I was in a fairly technologically savvy area, I came to my school as an English teacher and had to fight to build up a CS program from scratch. Prior to teaching I worked as a freelance tech generalist for small businesses in the area, doing everything from networking and server administration to web design and custom software development. Since I’ve joined Code.org I’ve worked on our elementary curriculum CS Fundamentals, developed our CS in Algebra course, consulted with Project GUTS to improve CS in Science, and now finally CS Discoveries. I’m also developing our in-house curriculum writing software (so if there are technical issues with the lesson plans, you know who to blame!)

My biggest concern in leaving the classroom was losing my connection to the students, so I’ve made a point of frequently visiting classrooms and co-teaching (Puget Sound area folks, let me know if/when I can come hang out). My favorite classroom visit story this year was coming into a class I’d never visited before unannounced and having students ask for my autograph (despite not having been introduced by the teacher). Turns out the previous day they had done a lesson that featured me in an instructional video, so they assumed I must be some sort of celebrity.

Can’t wait to see what you folks do with the course we’re making - I have a feeling this is going to be a fun pilot!

  • Josh


Hey folks I’m GT Wrobel and I’m very much looking forward to meeting you all. I’m a Curriculum Writer here at Code.org and the final member of the power trio that is the CS Discoveries writing team. We’re hard at work getting this curriculum written and cannot wait to hear how these lessons work in your classrooms.

I live in my hometown of Chicago where Code.org maintains a small satellite office. I graduated from Georgetown with a degree in math and economics, but my last semester of college I was lucky enough to take one computer science course with an excellent professor. Staying in touch with him after graduation eventually convinced me to 1.) go back to school to study computer science and 2.) leave consulting to pursue a career in teaching.

Since then I’ve taught high school mathematics and computer science while working towards a masters in CS at night. Last school year I piloted Code.org’s CS Principles curriculum and helped to write it on a part-time basis. At the end of that year I joined Code.org full-time to help finish the first draft of that course. Now I’m a part of the CS Discoveries project and happy to report I might be even more excited about this curriculum! I am very jealous that you will all have an opportunity to try the activities and tools we’ve been developing and cannot wait to hear your thoughts.

Like the others I don’t have any awesome stories this year from my own class, but I will be visiting some 7th and 8th grade classrooms over the next several weeks so I’ll likely have some soon. I will say that my favorite thing about teaching computer science was seeing how students would creatively apply what we’d learned. Needless to say we’re trying to build in many opportunities for that in CS Discoveries and can’t wait to see the results.

Looking forward to getting to know you all,


Hi all! I’m Elizabeth & I’m from Wadsworth, Ohio. I am super pumped about piloting the Discoveries program next school year. I am currently teaching a 7th grade computer technology course. I’ve been incorporating parts of the Computer Science in Science curriculum this year after finishing the training up in January. It is phenomenal stuff, but very content specific. I’m excited to work with the Discoveries content as it seems to match up with my curriculum better.

I have a BS in MCED with a focus in reading, language arts & social studies. I have a MA in Instructional Technology, and a Teacher Leadership Endorsement. This is my 13th year teaching.

I don’t know if I have any crazy stories from this year, but I did have a group of students create a stop animation video using Google Slides that depicted the life cycle of a chicken from conception/fertilization all the way to the sewer after consumption. Gotta love 7th graders!


Hey All!~
My name is Ross Cohen and I am the Information Technology teacher at our middle school here in the Madison, WI area. I teach a 9 week course to every 6th and 7th grader in the building and 8th graders have the option to take a semester long elective. Every 6th grader does the Code.org 20-hour tutorial in my class, and I am excited to implement this course with my 8th graders.

In addition to teaching coding, I really enjoy teaching CAD design and using the 3D printer with the students that I got funded through DonorsChoose. I also had my Master’s research on how to best engage middle school students in coding published in the Winter 2015 edition of the Journal for Computing Teachers.

I see over 150 middle school students everyday and so each day is totally crazy and full of stories :slight_smile: I am really looking forward to meeting everyone involved with the project and pilot program!!!



Hi! I’m Matt Rowland and I teach all of the Technology electives at Arden Middle School in Sacramento, CA. I currently teach three sections of Computer Applications, which covers a lot of ground. We start with basics and wind up the year with programming and robotics. I also teach Technology Exploration (a 1 quarter introduction course for 6th graders), and Media. I’m very excited about participating in the CS Discoveries pilot because it will be an ideal curriculum for a new Technology, Innovation, and Design course that I will start teaching next year. The course will focus on innovative project ideas involving programming and robotics.

My background is entirely in education. I have a multiple subject credential and supplementals in Computers and Science. I received my M.Ed. in Educational Technology several years ago and am excited about helping teachers integrate technology into their teaching. I have taught upper elementary age students and served as a Technology Coach for our district before starting at my current position 6 years ago. I am also an Affiliate trainer for Code.org’s K-5 curriculum and have enjoyed being affiliated with this amazing organization since 2014.

I look forward to working with everyone on what I expect too be a great project. I’m also looking forward to meeting y’all in November!


Greetings from Phoenix, AZ!

My name is Janice Mak and I am excited to be a part of piloting CSDiscoveries. I love the process of iterating, collaborating, and I especially love working on curriculum projects. I teach grades 7-8 STEM half-time and am an instructional coach for the other half of my time in Paradise Valley Unified School District. I’m also a K-5 facilitator and got into CS through starting robotics when I taught in a Title 1 elementary school. I don’t know if this counts as ridiculous, but students I taught then are now juniors in high school and creating apps at hackathons, winning robotics competitions at the high school and volunteering with me at local Boys and Girls Clubs and public libraries to bring coding to the community.

The most fun I have teaching CS is seeing the creativity and self-expression come through in my students in the projects they create - no two are alike and this never ceases to amaze me.

Look forward to getting to know you all!



Hey everyone! My name is Russell Strand-Poole and I’m a computer science teacher in Durham, NC (I actually am teaching at the elementary school I went to when I was a kid!). I teach grades 3-6, but our school is adding grades up to eighth over the coming years. My 6th grade class this year is a combination of coding, web design, and robotics. We focus on a combination of selected lessons from Course 2 and 3, then move into developing websites using HTML and CSS. We end our nine weeks with a two week introduction to robotics.

My background is a bit abnormal. I actually got my undergraduate and master’s degrees in music performance with a focus on classical guitar. I started in the schools as a volunteer and then a Teacher Assistant. I got my lateral entry license and taught fourth grade my first year, music my second year, and now I teach computer science. I’m extremely passionate about the subject, and truly believe that it is a necessity for all students.

I look forward to getting to know everyone and helping make this the best course possible!


Hello from southern California,

My name is Cecilia Zavestoski and I am very excited to be a part of this pilot. I teach 6th and 7th graders Computer Literacy which is an introduction to different computer applications including some of the code.org courses for the coding module. I also teach an Introduction to Coding class to 7th and 8th graders. I love the code.org curriculum and can’t wait to have curriculum specifically for middle school. I live and teach in Murrieta, CA.

My background includes a very old B.A. in computer science. My first programs were on cards. After moving to California, I went back to school for my credential and my masters is in education. I am a National Board Certified teacher as well. I have only been teaching tech classes for two years, before that I was a Language Arts/Social Studies teacher and before that I taught elementary school. I have always integrated technology into curriculum as much as possible.

Nothing really ridiculous this year, just the usual shenanigans.

The most rewarding part of teaching computer science happened recently. We were on an AVID college tour and a girl from my coding class was asking the group leader about the computer science program and told me later she wants to major in computer science. Yes!

Looking forward to November and meeting everyone in person!


Hi Everyone. I’m Dana and from the Los Angeles area. I’m excited to be part of this program and I currently teach 6th-8th grade middle school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. This is my 22nd year teaching and I have National Board certification. I have been teaching technology elective classes at a math, science, technology magnet for the past 16 years. I’m currently teaching a 7th and 8th grade programing class using code.org, Robo Mind Academy, Game Star Mechanic, and App Inventor. I also teach video production, cartoon animation, and Photoshop classes. For the past 14 years, I’ve been the technology coordinator at my school with 5 computer labs and 400 iPads that provide our technology program with additional technology courses, this includes a robotics lab, competitive Vex Robotics team, claymation, advanced video production and advanced Photoshop classes. I present professional development technology classes at the district level. I think I have one of the best jobs because I get to engage students in learning new technology skills and, this is extremely fun and rewarding for me as well as for my students!


Hello Everyone! I’m Renee Coley and I’m a 6th grade ELA teacher at a 5-8 middle school in Reynoldsburg, Ohio which is right outside of Columbus. With a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Children’s Literature, I am certainly a non-traditional CS teacher. After 24 years of teaching, I will be taking this passion I have for CS and bringing it full force into my middle school as a class and not just an after-school activity.

I got into computer science as a family affair. Five years ago, my husband who is a teacher at a STEM high school in the district, helped to start FRC Team 4085 and I went along for the ride as a mentor. Our oldest son, who was a sophomore at the time, was part of the group of students that founded the team and he continues today as mentor. You can’t spend countless hours around a robotics team and not get hooked so by the time our younger son joined the team as a programmer I was all in. This year I started an after-school robotics program at my school that uses a mix of FLL Lego League Mindstorms, Vex, and littleBits. I’ve spent the last five years learning along with the kids and I’m excited that I will be able to continue that process by being a part of this pilot.

The Hour of Code was the first in-class activity I did with my students this year that really got my principal to look at CS as more than just an activity we should do once a year or on Friday afternoons for fun. She really got to see what the kids were able to do and how engaged they were in the whole process. We recently got some littleBits sets so during a robotics meeting I put them out on the table and stepped back. Within five minutes there were spinning wheels, flashing lights, and buzzing sounds. My principal said “But you didn’t give them any directions or tell them anything.” Exactly. That’s what I love the most about CS. I’m a guide. There for support. We learn together.

Between now and August, I will be part of the team that creates a Makerspace in our school that will not only be used to enhance our curriculum but also be a part of our school’s mission of community outreach.

Middle school and ridiculous are synonymous most days so there isn’t just one story to tell. I’m sure you’ll hear plenty from me in the coming year. I’ve been looking forward to meeting this group since I got my acceptance email! Can’t wait for November!



I am Pedro Uribe. I am a math teacher in South Florida. I am very excited about next year when I will be co-teaching an elective in which I will be able to give my students what they keep asking for… ‘When can we do more coding (Computer Science)’.

No ridiculous story, but I can tell you that there are a few of my students that since I introduced them to CS refuse to use or see websites unless they are doing it through the source code.

I teach math, at all middle school grade levels and up to Geometry, and that will be my focus, trying to find connections to the math curriculum.
I like computer science because it gives me the opportunity to tap into the kids energy and enthusiasm, and allows me to give them a chance to learn in a way they enjoy.

I have been implementing the Computer Science in Algebra for the last two years in my classroom and also help out when I can as a facilitator.


Hello my name is Dan Nijhout-Rowe. I was initially excited about the pilot program because of the IoT section. I’ve been incorporating arduino boards and raspberry pis into my classroom but have been doing so “blindly,” grabbing ideas from various how to/experimenter books and encouraging students to come up with their own project ideas. These low cost boards really help to make CS more accessible to even the most budget strapped classrooms.
I am drawing a blank when trying to think of a ridiculous classroom story though I am sure there are several. I blame it on this time of year, is anyone else’s brain feeling like mush at this point? Right before Easter I had two students who had never touched a soldering iron before create an “evil” Easter Bunny with blinking red lights for eyes. They used my schools 3D printer and a little arduino board hooked to some LED’s. Not ridiculous but it was fun seeing them jump the hurdles that came up when trying to create something from scratch on their own.
My CS background: I grew up a computer nerd and built my first 8088 in the mid 80’s (I remember being excited when DOS 5 came out) My undergrad degree is in both Math and Physics with a minor in Computer Science. I did Biomedical and Acoustical Physics research prior to teaching which mostly involved being the labs’ computer guy; coaxing life out of old systems and writing modeling programs. During that time I was lucky enough to be involved in the study of some Stradivarius Violins. (I’ve given an MRI to a couple multi-million dollar old Italian instruments!)
Personally the most fun part of CS is the puzzle…trying to figure out how to talk the machine into doing what you want it to do; then streamlining it as much as possible. The most fun part of teaching CS is the most fun of teaching anything to this age group: when the students come up with unexpected solutions or problems.
I am currently teaching ECS and will be getting trained this summer to teach the new AP course in the fall and spring of next year.
I am super excited to get started with this course and feel honored to be chosen to participate in this pilot.
My site, DanTeachesMath.net


Hi everyone! My name is Andrea Nash and I am currently in my 4th year as an instructional technology teacher and technology integration specialist. I teach at a special education school in New York with a wonderful group of both students and teachers! I am excited to pilot the new CS Discoveries course because I currently use code.org’s other curriculums and my students absolutely love it. I am always looking for new and exciting resources to engage my students in learning skills for a potential future career. My background in computer science is based mostly around programming, app development, and using new technology tools to enhance learning in the classroom. The best part about computer science is seeing my students create and learn new things that will help them in the future. Many of my students struggle severely with academics, so any career based skill that they learn, they feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment. I currently teach code.org’s courses one through four to my students but I am looking to expand this and keep fresh material lined up for my middle school students. I look forward to working with everyone!


My name is Katie Ingram. I currently work at the UCLA -Community School, a K-12 school in Los Angeles. I am in the 1st of a 2 year grant written by UCLA to provide Computer Science at UCLA-CS. This year, I am teaching AP CSP and ECS, as well as developing a curriculum for the elementary school. One of the things I am looking forward to with CS Discoveries is have a continuous format to work with. Using the code.org curriculum with the lower school and then again with the CSP students allows me to have consistent vocabulary and structures to work with.


Greetings from Idaho everyone. I’m Kathy Bennett and I teach 7-8 Computers at Declo Jr. High in rural South-central Idaho. I feel privileged to have been selected to pilot this new curriculum. Currently, I teach a combination of topics in my classes. In both 7th and 8th I teach digital citizenship, Google Docs Suite, the code.org courses and then I collaborate with the other departments in my school on projects that are cross-curricular. I am fortunate in the fact that, in our middle school, students are required to have a full year of computers each year in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. It allows me the ability to better prepare my students for high school and beyond. I have always enjoyed new technology, but my degrees are in Animal Science and Elementary Ed. I have only been teaching computers for 3 years now. When I find something I am interested in I usually seek information and learn on my own. That’s how I found out about the code.org courses and professional development. I have now taken two different professional development classes through code.org. They are some of the best PD classes I have ever taken and my students have enjoyed the curriculum I have implemented in my classes. When the SPED teacher thanks you, because her students are so excited to come to my class, you know you have made a difference for those students and others. I’m hoping this new course will broaden their horizons even more, as well as mine.


Good morning from beautiful Reynoldsburg, OH!

I am so excited to be a part of this pilot. This is my 6th year teaching, all of which has been spent as a Special Education teacher. Next year, with great support from my building principal and the movers and shakers in our district, I will be making the leap to teaching (and learning :smile:) Computer Science and Virtual Reality Exploration in a new space in our building.

I came to computer science directly through my exploration with the Hour of Code. I participated a few years ago simply to try to win an Ollie in a twitter contest–and I was hooked. To this day, I’m not sure I’ve seen the same level of engagement with my students as I did during those first Hour of Code activities.

The most fun part of Computer Science is watching students MAKE and CREATE in a way they didn’t know was possible before. I believe that true learning involves doing and making and Computer Science is another avenue for students to do just that.

I’m excited to meet, work with, and learn from everyone in this pilot.

Have a great day! :computer: :smiley: :fireworks:


Hi, I am very excited to pilot middle school courses from code.org. I love all of the activities that are on code.org now. I have had many students use code.org in class and they love it. I look forward to some more challenging activities for grades 6-8.
I am a middle school teacher from Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
I teach mainly computer applications to students. I want to do more with code. I think the most fun is figuring out how something works.
My students use code.org for about ten minutes per class now.