Blog Post

Why Do You Do It?

This blog post originally appeared on AbstractingCS and has been
re-published with the permission of the author.


Why do you do it?” is the questions I get often when it comes to contests and grants. First , let me give you a little background information.  I teach at a rural Title school (over 50% of the students receive free or reduced lunch).  My county is primarily agricultural.  Two years ago the county’s major employer (International Paper) closed leaving over 1,100 without jobs.  Currently, the school system is our county’s largest employer.  This year the average teacher at my school received $310 instructional supply money.  Since I’m career tech I received a little more, but instructional supply and CT money combine is less than $1,000. (A printer cartridge cost $99)  All my students don’t have access to the internet at home.  For some of my students, school is the only access they have to current technology.

We are all interested in increasing the population of students taking Computer Science courses (especially underrepresented groups). Before I go on anymore I should explain something, I am one of those “career students”.  My first degree was an Associates in Computer Info Sys, my second degree was a Bachelors in Computer Science, and the list goes on… I love learning.   As I reflect, I think about what made me pursue Computer Science.

Why did this 80s lady major in Computer Science?

Ok, let’s go back in our time machine to the 80’s (Cindi Lauper, Michael Jackson, and Back to the Future.  You know back when you could play “Drop the bomb on me” at Pep Rally and the entire school wouldn’t go on lockdown.  Those were the days….Sorry I digress) What made me take Computer Science?  Computer Science classes weren’t offered at my school.  The closest classes offered were math and typing (yes, typing on a typewriter.).  But in the school library they had this mysterious machine that no one else in the school had….an Apple Computer.

Wouldn’t this beauty make you want to take Computer Science?

The machine wasn’t for students to use it was back behind the counter.  My parents could never afford a computer.  I had to find a way to get my hands on it.  I couldn’t wait to press all the buttons and select from the DOS menu one of the 4 -5 menu choices.  How could I do it?  I decided to become a library student aide and I did.  As library aide, I got to …you better sit down….use that baby to print labels for library books.  It was MAGIC!  I could print spine labels.  Early on, I still had to use the typewriter to type out cards for the card catalog but I was intrigued by the computer and how it magically saved and printed those labels.  An entire sheet at once.  So when I graduated high school, I decide to try Computer Science.

Computer Science:

  1. Intrigued me …it was something new and exciting.
  2. Was magical…how did the magic work?
  3. Left me wanting…When I finally got my hands on that computer, it left me wanting to learn more.

Now Start the Flux Capacitor, Jump in the Time Machine and Let’s Fly Forward to 2016

Why do I spend so much time on grants and contests?  Simple, I want my students to have access to current technology.  I want them to have the best.  I have 159 students this year and you can’t buy a lot of technology for that many students with less than $1,000.  I have to find other ways.  I want students to see and use the technology in my room and be intrigued.  For some of them, it maybe something their families could never afford.  I want them to get excited about the magic of it all and leave them wanting to learn more.

That’s my story and why I do it. Today I’m not just sharing; I’m asking you to help me and my students.  My students’ STEM project has been selected as one of Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow ‘s 15 national finalist from over 4,100 original entries.  Our project is about honeybees and colony collapse disorder.  If you eat, you need to know about this problem.  We all share the problem, so we all should share in working toward a solution.  To help my students, we need votes for our project.  You can vote daily through March 31 for our project on both Twitter and Instagram by including #SamsungSolve and #SamsungSolveLCHS  on your post.  Post must be original no retweets.  Please vote and help bring the magic of technology to my students.  If we win, our school will receive over $120,000 in technology prizes.  For a teacher that receives less than $1,000 a year for technology, this is HUGE.  We kind of feel like we are in a David and Goliath situation when we look at the large schools we are up against.  Some of our competitor’s schools are larger than our entire town so we need everyone’s help in voting daily. We BELIEVE in our project work and our potential to win! We welcome your votes, your student’s votes, your friend’s votes, your family’s votes, anyone you can rally to help us vote.




(aka… 80s Lady, Believer, Teacher, Dreamer, Doer)

Check out our project video:

Lawrence County High Moulton, AL

Lawrence County High is the first one listed.


Gina McCarley is a Computer Science Teacher at Lawrence County High School in Moulton, AL. She enjoys reading and playing with her golden retrievers when she is not teaching.