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43 Oklahoma Educators Prepare to Teach Computer Science Thanks to The Div & Partnership

The Div is excited to announce the first ever Oklahoma teacher cohort for our Professional Learning Program! Participating teachers receive free computer science curriculum for their school as well as year-round training and support from The Div and community with other CS teachers.

43 middle school and high school educators from all across Oklahoma (including two from Kansas!) will join us for a year-long professional development process that all kicks off next week with a 5-day summer workshop in Houston, where educators will work hands-on with the curriculum and meet other teachers from our region. Throughout the year, they’ll have access to online resources for upcoming units and attend 4 professional development workshops hosted by The Div. They’ll also have the opportunity to participate in community building events with other computer science teachers.

Teachers participating in the program have worked with their school administration to ensure that the computer science course will be offered on the school’s master schedule and have committed to support the recruitment and enrollment of a diverse group of students in their course.

Here’s a look at our state-wide impact in this first year alone.

This is an incredible opportunity for both school districts and Oklahoma students, as computing jobs are now the #1 source of new wages in the United States. With 500,000 current openings, these jobs are in every industry and every state, and they’re projected to grow at twice the rate of all other jobs. Oklahoma alone has 2,590 open computing jobs…3.4 times the average demand rate!

Computer science is foundational knowledge that all students deserve the opportunity to learn. The Div is excited to help improve access for Oklahoma students, including groups that have traditionally been underrepresented.

Teachers selected to participate in this year’s Professional Learning Program are:

CS Discoveries

Adam Carr, Bridge Creek High School
Shelly Cherry, Independence Charter Middle School

Karen Bates, Piedmont Middle School
Eric Boggs, Cheyenne Middle School
Rebbecca Brandon, Choctaw Middle School
Floyd Brown, Duncan Middle School
Jamie Castle, Chisholm Middle School
Suzanne Giddens, Jenks Middle School
Kitty Herbel, Dewitt Waller Middle School
Michelle Nance, Cordell High School
Tammy Parks, Howe ES
Lauren Perrier, All Saints Catholic School
DeeLyn Pool, Shattuck High School
Mary Ryan, Central Middle School
Kimberly Stone, Dibble High School

CS Principles

Susan James, Edmond Santa Fe High School
Pat St. Clair, Edmond Memorial High School

Melissa Bevelhymer, New Lima High School
Brant Breeden, Oklahoma Christian School
Loren Dillingham, Drummond ES & HS
Holly Emig, Oklahoma Christian School
Melissa Evans, Northwest Classen High School
Kimberli Felton, Broken Arrow Freshman Academy
Joseph Ford, Holland Hall
Celena Galbreaith, Ada Junior High School
Shelley Grant, John Marshall High School
Lacey Haines, Drumright High School
Amber Harp, Little Axe High School
Ruth Haynes, Capitol Hill High School
Lori Hower, Ottowa Sr. High School
Scott Makintubee, Central Tech Drumright
Megan O’Brien, Broken Arrow Freshman Academy
Sherri Pankhurst, Cordell High School
Adrian Ramos, Elgin High School
Donnieta Ray, Ada High School
Cassie Ricks, Oklahoma Centennial High School
Heath Roach, Skiatook High School
Jon Robinson, Cheyenne High School
Victor Rook, Moore High School
Tressie Sims, Tyrone High School
Pamela Smith, Jenks High School
Kim Smith, Tulsa Technology Center Riverside
Jill Stevenson, Chanute High School
Lawrence Taylor, U. S. Grant High School
Shawn Vester, Immanuel Lutheran Christian Academy
Jason Webber, Stillwater High School

To apply next year

Applications for the 2017-18 Professional Learning Program are closed. If you would like to expand computer science offerings at your school or district, feel free to email us and start the conversation. You can also sign up here to be notified when next year’s application window opens in January.

How you can help

This training, curriculum and support are all provided to teachers at absolutely no charge to them or their school district. The program is made possible through partnership with and the generous investments of our donors.

Our funding is for a short time only. We need champions to help us grow and sustain this investment in our teachers and students. A single moment can spark interest, fuel passion and change the course of a young person’s life. Please consider a donation to help us expand access to 21st century learning and directly impact education in Oklahoma.

Is Minecraft the Future of Learning?

All video games are not created equal.  In fact, I’d argue that there’s a valid place for some of them in the world of education.

We hosted our first Minecraft camp last weekend and it was a big hit with kids and parents, alike. The camp filled up in just 10 days, and the waiting list nearly matched the class size. We’re hoping to host another this fall. (Sign up here to be the first to get details!)

13701117_1389620431053405_1475069692938203835_oDebates about “screen time” are nothing new and lots of parents regard it as something to be given minimally. But is it really fair to lump Minecraft in with everything else?

It’s a video game, sure, but it’s also a building toy. Basically, Minecraft is this generation’s digital version of legos.

Kids don’t love it because they recognize that it’s educational…kids respond to Minecraft because it’s a creative, collaborative environment where they’re in control of their own projects.

When we use Minecraft as an educational tool, we aren’t simply turning the kids loose to play, and the goal isn’t for them to get better at “playing Minecraft”. When kids come to Minecraft camp, they’re given challenges that develop different abilities, which are tied to coding, digital literacy, spatial reasoning and STEM skills.

Challenges can also link to specific curricular standards and objectives. In the case of the treehouse challenge we used at camp, students used concepts from geometry like area and perimeter.

In order to set their students up for success in the 21st century, teachers often look to the 4 C’S:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity

Minecraft has some unique advantages for integrating each one.

Critical Thinking


Minecraft requires a good deal of debugging. When what you’ve built isn’t working the way you want it to, you have to carefully go over it to figure out what’s wrong. Problem solving is one of Minecraft’s most powerful tools for learning.

It’s an idea that computer programers know and wrestle with every day, which is that programs are rarely flawless at first. The work isn’t so much in writing code but in debugging it, figuring out what you did wrong and coming up with a fix. The game encourages kids to regard logic and if-then statements as fun things to mess around with.



When working through Minecraft challenges, students are given specific instructions for how to complete the task ahead. They have to listen effectively before they can even get started.

When students explore either other’s creations, they’re giving instructions and taking feedback.

During “Show and Share” time, students practice expressing their thoughts clearly and articulating their ideas during oral presentations.



Collaboration is essential because it’s largely how work is accomplished once children move on to adulthood.

Our campers worked on two different challenges, and both were completed in teams of two or three. They had to learn to build something with a team. In the case of the escape room challenge, teams had to figure out how to connect each of their individual builds to create a cohesive game.



Creativity and innovation are drivers in today’s society and Minecraft is a source of endless possibilities.

Before beginning challenges, students are tasked with brainstorming and idea creation to create and refine their build plans.

In creative mode, the goal is to build structures in an open 3D environment. The open-ended nature of the game gives students the opportunity to be inventive and really feel a sense of control over their environment.

We owe it to 21st century students to respond to a constantly changing world and provide them with the necessary skills to prepare them for success.

One of the benefits of using technology in education is how much more engaged students are as a result. If kids enjoy what they’re doing and have fun while they learn…everybody wins!

Class: Money Management April 27th

Christin Baker is back for another round of Money Management. We always have a great turn out when Christin comes to The Div. If you missed this seminar last time you will want to make it to this one!

Here are the objectives you can expect to learn about in the Money Management Seminar:

  • Setting Financial Goals
  • Getting Organized
  • Cutting Spending Waste
  • Building Your Budget
  • Saving Made Easy
  • Monitoring Your Credit

Brought to us by Allegiance Credit Union

Christin Baker is the Social Media Manager/Communications Specialist at Allegiance Credit Union where she has worked since May of 2009. She is very active with the Edmond Young Professionals where she serves on the Steering Committee and is the current Chair of the Ambassador Committee. She is also a member of the Women’s Network Council of the Edmond Chamber of Commerce. Christin serves on the Institutional Advisory Board at Brookline College and sits on the Business/Marketing Career Tech Advisory Committee for the Putnam City School District. Over the past two years she has been presenting financial education seminars to various businesses, schools, and organizations throughout the Oklahoma City metro.


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SweatOKC Teaching “Educate and Motivate” Series in September

Amber Enlgand of SweatOKC will be teaching a series of classes at The Div. September is childhood obesity month.

She will cover everything from how to read a food label and smart shopping tips to getting in the kitchen and cooking with kids. Each participant will leave each class armed with information and some “healthy homework” that will help make healthier choices come easier.

Typically her classes are reserved for corporate wellness “lunch and learns” or individual clients who pay Amber to go into their home, but she wanted to find a way to share this information with as many people as she could for the month of September.

The “Educate and Motivate” classes are September 12th, 19th and 26th, each at 7pm.

For more information on SweatOKC and Amber please visit her site.