Western Wyoming Community College’s Associate Professor of Information Technology (IT), Carla Hester-Croff, won the 2018 Post-Secondary STEM Educator of the Year.
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Nominations are submitted and reviewed by a selection committee at the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE).
Hester-Croff has more than 18 years of experience in the IT industry. She has worked with Unisys, US Sprint, the Department of State, Office of Foreign Missions and the Department of Justice US Attorney’s Office. She has been teaching at Western Wyoming Community College for over 15 years - and has also taught online courses for the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
"Carla is one of those educators that sees potential in everything and everyone around her. As an Information Technology professor at Western Wyoming Community College, she has inspired students and educators across the state through her passion, advocacy, and constant focus on what is best for students. Her tireless efforts to promote computer science and STEM education in Wyoming have already had far-reaching impacts that will benefit our students for decades to come," said Jillian Barlow, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Additional accomplishments include her instrumental hand in building WyoCSZone – a non-profit Wyoming Computer Science (CS) teacher community dedicated to helping fellow teachers and students within Wyoming. The community serves as a bridge to aid teachers, students, communities and professionals by helping them gain confidence, and build CS skills to become community and business leaders.
In March of 2018, the Senate File SF0029 passed and was signed by Governor Matthew Mead. This bill includes the following in the common core standards: Computer science is required to be taught by all K-12 schools no later than the 2022-2023 school year. School districts will be required to integrate computational thinking skills into K-12 courses. The Wyoming State Board of Education must promulgate computer science content standards. Students may count computer science toward one year of their science graduation requirements, and also count it toward one year of math or science for the Hathaway Scholarship Program requirements. The Wyoming Department of Education is required to conduct a study to determine what it will cost for all school districts to offer computer science and work with the Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) to continue working on computer science endorsements for elementary, middle and high school teachers.
“The future is filled with opportunities for computer science and Carla is one of those people who is always seeing how far she can see to anticipate the future. Often I’ll read an article or hear about an exciting idea for our students. I run down to Carla’s office to ask her what she thinks about it and she nearly always responds with something similar to, ‘I just met with Google and we should have that in place in a few weeks.’ As an amazing futurist and doer, she has brought the future to our students, college, community, and state,” said Dr. Karla Leach, President of Western Wyoming Community College.
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