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C'est la Z

Building a SHIP - The Crew

The Crew

One of the most important, possibly the most important part of SHIP's success was the crew and that's what sets us apart.

I've seen CS Ed organizations run by business people, lawyers, investors and more.The people developing curriculum are EdTech people, entrepreneurs and anything but seasoned educators. I've seen programs developed, curriculum created and then the search for teachers commence. Ofttimes real educators aren't involved at all.

We're teachers all the way down.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's not about the curriculum, it's about the teachers. Take, for example, math. Math curricula have been well defined for years but we still have major problems with math education. The bottom line is that it's the teacher in the room that can bring a topic to life or kill it. A great teacher can make a lousy curriculum decent. A great curriculum won't do anything for a lousy teacher.

That's where we will succeed - we've got the best teachers and that's our crew.

Now, onto the crew.

I'm fortunate enough to have worked with some terrific teachers. If they'd allow it, I'd like to think of three of them as my proteges. Sam and JonAlf were actually students of mine when they were at Stuy but I include Topher in the mix. Our fourth teacher, Yulia, was JonAlf's student teacher this past year.

Coaching trees have become popular in recent history. It's kind of cool that we have one for CS teachers.

Coaching tree

Of course, it extends up as well, although my mentors, excepting Robert, didn't teach CS.

Extended coaching tree

And of course the rest of the team have other influences as well.

So let's talk about the crew.

JonAlf Dyrland-Weaver

I like to describe JonAlf as a younger, hipper version of me. Of course, I set the hip bar pretty low. I tell my kids that I used to be the young teacher but I was never the hip teacher.

JonAlf and I are probably the most similar in style. Of course, this means that if you put us in a room together, all productivity ceases. We've come up with such great ideas as our mascot, Clyde "Thluffy" Sinclair," the Stuy CS semi-formal and more (or is that less).

He's been my partner in crime since he came on board. Back in the day I was the only teacher of our post AP classes and I was delighted to offload some of that burden to JonAlf.

Topher Brown

JonAlf was the hip one (with the bar, admittedly set pretty low) until Topher came aboard. Topher didn't go to Stuy so he can never be a made man, but he's pretty awesome, nonetheless. He came in as a math teacher who just coincidentally had a bit of a CS background. He fit into our insanity from day one.

Sam Konstantinovich

Sam was also my student. He's the mature one (again, the bar was set pretty low). I joke that he has the reputation for being the mean one because his first day at Stuy he said something that scared some of his students. Definitely more together and organized than the rest of us I tried to convince him to join our team for three or four years before he finally came over.

Just to be sure no one misreads my comments on Sam. I've trusted him with my son's CS education. I think that should tell you how much I think of him.

Yulia Genkina

Yulia's the new kid on the block. We all went in feeling very positive about having her on the team. At least until she tried to off all of us on Pirate Day.

Yulia trying to off JonAlf

and me

Seriously though, she fits right in and is also a real talent.

That's the crew. I'm amazingly proud of all of them and one of the things I was most happy about my role in SHIP was that I was able to empower them to be themselves and just do their thing. When you have a great crew that's how you do it.

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