I've been spending a lot of time at area high schools this fall. Today I was at FDR High School in Broooklyn.
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I only learned about FDR HS a little over a year ago when I met their CS teacher Josh Hans at a NYC PD event. I visit last fall and then again today.
Whenever I visit a school it's a different experience. Sometimes I speak to the CS classes, sometimes at an event like a CS Week hackathon, once I even got to address an entire senior class in an auditorium.
I really loved how Josh and FDR set things up for me today.
Before I get to the arrangement, let's talk about the talk.
When I meet with a room of seniors, even a room full of CS students, I know that only a few students are going to end up with me at Hunter. A room of 30 seniors should probably end up in something like 25 different colleges. I also know that even in a CS class many of the students will end up pursuing other majors.
I really don't think it's right for me to take a full class period and talk just about Hunter and my Daedalus program so instead I start by talking about college choices. I try to share things that I've learned over my career as a student, teacher, parent, and now someone reading applications with my audiuence. Things I've learned from both my experiences and through my relationships with former students. At the end we talk about Hunter, Hunter CS and the Daedalus program.
I've been told that the approach has been really valuable to the majority of students I've delivered it to.
There were a few things that Josh set up today that made it a lot of fun. First, we were in the auditorium. I had Josh's APCS-A class but he also invited a couple of others. I also had APCS-P students and also a class of Calculus students. This was a big deal. Just like everyone, I'm working hard to build a program with a diverse population and sometimes outreach is difficult. Specifically, if a school only allows me to speak with their APCS-A students, I frequently end up with a pre-culled group. If a school, for example, has a very low percentage of women in their APCS-A class and that's where I'm speaking, I'm not going to be able to convince many women to look into what we're offering. By having the calc sutdents in the audience I had a more diverse audience and also almost certainly had the chance to expose some students to CS in a new and different way. Now, don't get me wrong. Given the nature of my program, I really love talking to APCS-A students and going with probability, they're the most likely the ones to want my program but I love casting the wider net.
The other think Josh did was he gave me two periods. My talk usually takes most of a period with little time for discussion. It should take less but I tend to go into yammer mode and start telling stories. Sorry - it's just what I do. With two periods we had plenty of time for discussion afterwards. What's more, after most of the students left, I was left with about 6 students who wanted to continue to talk. I really enjoyed that.
Once I was done I did what I usually do - went to the local bakery to bring home some baked goods. I stopped at the 18th street Bakery. An Italian place and got an assortment. Also had a great chat with the lady at the counter. It reminded me of when I'd go to Moishes Bakery before they closed albeit Italian rather than Jewish.
I pointed to a pile of cookes and asked "what are these?" and she merely said "No!!!!!" We joked back and forth and she explained that they were on the older side and didn't feel right selling them and was going to throw the rest of the batch out. They'd bake new ones for tomorrow. I was disappointed not to try a new cookie but glad that I wasn't sold stale goods. It was like at Moishes when I once asked about the Babka and was told "that was made on Wednesday, you don't want it. This is what's fresh. New Babka tomorrow.
So, then, on the way home, thinking about Moishes and realizing that there were also Jewish bakeries in the neighborhood I decided to see if I could find Kichel - one of Devorah's favorite cookies. I sometimes make them but haven't in a while. I found some at Korn's Bakery and then it was back into Manhattan.
So, overall a succesful day. I got to talk to a bunch of great High School cookies and got tasty neighborhood baked goods.
I've hit a bunch of schools already this fall as I work to spread the gospel about CS and about Hunter's Daedalus program and am still looking to get more on the schedule so if you know a school that's a good fit a visit, hit me up.