#1StudentNWI: Utilizing computer science with Tracie Mezera-Juarez

#1StudentNWI: Utilizing computer science with Tracie Mezera-Juarez

Computer science is a field that has been growing exceptionally in recent years, and the introduction of the pandemic has shown just how big of a role technology can play in our lives. Highland High School Computer Science and Math Teacher Tracie Mezera-Juarez has seen the growth of computer science and our reliance on technology first hand.

Mezera-Juarez was first introduced to the world of computer science a few years ago. 

“In 2016 I believe, I was asked by Highland to attend a training with Apple since our district was going one-to-one with iPads. It was meant to train me to help students and staff with tech issues and to be a resource for technology help within the district,” Mezera-Juarez said.

This training is what got Mezera-Juarez started in the subject and initiated her current role at the high school.

“It was because of this training that I became more interested in computer science,” Mezera-Juarez said.

Mezera-Juarez’s interest in her training ultimately caused her to have the idea for the Highland Student Tech Team, where students at the school are taught about coding and problem-solving skills. Mezera-Juarez has now been teaching computer science as a class.

“Last year was the first year I taught [Introduction to] Computer Science and this year I am teaching both Intro to CS and Intro to CS1,” Mezera-Juarez said.

Although computer science is definitely becoming a major part of Mezera-Juarez’s role as an instructor, she still teaches other aspects of STEM, such as math. 

“I have always been teaching math and still am. I currently still teach two sections of Algebra II,” Mezera-Juarez said.

Being a multi-subject teacher, along with her involvement in the tech team, shows Mezera-Juarez’s devotion to teaching. In fact, part of the reason she got into the field in the first place was to be involved with the school in more ways than just teaching in the classroom.

“I chose teaching at first because I really wanted to get into coaching basketball as well, and teaching is a great way to coach,” Mezera-Juarez said.

For Mezera-Juarez, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Grace College and her masters at Malone University, going above and beyond as a teacher is meaningful to her. 

“It is important to me. I do like to constantly challenge myself to be learning more and doing different things professionally. I am really enjoying the coding that I have learned over the past few years, and I am glad that Highland has given me the opportunity to teach these courses,” Mezera-Juarez said.

With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way education has operated for the past year, reliance on technology has increased, but Highland was ready. 

“Our district being one-to-one before the pandemic was definitely to everyone’s benefit. There was still quite a learning curve to doing everything digitally, but I would say we were in a better position than a lot of districts by already having devices and being somewhat familiar with operating class online,” Mezera-Juarez said.

Although Highland was somewhat prepared, the pandemic has still been challenging in terms of the missing face-to-face, social connections.

“The hardest part of teaching during COVID-19 has been the lack of personal interaction with students. It has been hard to establish the same classroom culture that I am used to achieving in an all in-person situation,” Mezera-Juarez said.

The challenges have been tough, but Mezera-Juarez knows that important lessons can be learned from each of these challenges.

“While I would love to go back to having all my students in-person, I would say working through the challenges that have been put upon us this year as teachers has only made us get better at our profession. The amount of planning and flexibility has exponentially increased this year, but it has made us all-around better educators.” Mezera-Juarez said.

As we progress forward through the pandemic, we can rely on having technology to bring us together and teachers like Tracie Mezera-Juarez to go above and beyond for students.