Teaching Swap

Part of CME Group Foundation’s mission is to prepare K-12 students for success in college and careers through computer science education. This means that teachers and school leaders also need to be prepared and equipped to provide the right training and education to these students. That’s why the Foundation provided a two-year grant to Queens University in Belfast to provide professional development for secondary school teachers in computer science. This led to the idea of a teacher swap!

“A teacher exchange seemed like a natural next step so that Chicago Public School (CPS) and Belfast teachers and leaders could learn from each other,” explained Kassie Davis, CME Group Foundation Executive Director.

In June, Lucia Dettori, Executive Director of Computer Science 4 All and Valerie Curry, CPS high school computer science teacher and Exploring Computer Science professional development facilitator, packed their bags and headed to Belfast. While there, they were able to observe and participate in professional development, visit schools, meet with teachers, administrators and students to understand their experiences, and meet with University professors to tour their facilities and understand their involvement in the K-12 computer science world.

It was fantastic to be able to have a real dialogue with our Belfast colleagues about the struggles and successes we have experienced on different sides of the Atlantic in fulfilling our common vision of helping all school children develop critical computational thinking skills and discover the exciting field of computer science,” added Lucia. “By facilitating this kind of exchange, CME Group Foundation is showing its commitment to a global solution to this very important challenge.

When asked how she would describe her Belfast visit, Valerie said, “Enlightening, exciting and invaluable! I learned so much about the educational system in Northern Ireland. I'm looking forward to future partnerships in computer science education.”

Part two of the exchange took place in August when Angela Allen, Assistant Director of Education at Queens University Computer Science Department, and Ruth Foster, Head of Computing at Wallace High School in Lisburn, had the chance to visit Chicago. Angela and Ruth had a whirlwind two days in the windy city where they visited DePaul University, CME Group, Lane Tech high school, LEAP Innovations, Google and even squeezed in a river cruise to take in Chicago architecture.

“Visiting companies like CME Group and Google was invaluable because it provided me with experience from the workplace that I can share with my students as they prepare for future careers,” said Ruth.

“It was beneficial and reassuring to hear stories from teachers now teaching computer science for the first time, as the correlation to teachers in Northern Ireland is so similar but highlights the passion for the subject,” said Angela. “The commitment from university professors, company staff, school teachers and administrators is inspiring.”

Ruth added, “I am so thankful to CME Group Foundation for providing this unprecedented opportunity. In the next academic year, I look forward to connecting our students at Wallace High with those at Lane Tech High to enrich educational provision in the preparation of our young people for a shared future in our global economy.”

Front Row: Lucia Detorri, CPS Executive Director, Office of Computer Science; Norma Sinte, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, DARO; Kassie Davis, Executive Director CME Group Foundation