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OSAGE | Two Mitchell County school districts were in the national spotlight when their superintendent received a national administrator award for computer science.

Osage/Riceville Superintendent Barb Schwamman is the recipient of the 2018 CSTA Administrator Impact Award.

It was given by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) at an event in Chicago Tuesday, Dec. 4. 

The purpose of this award is to identify and promote administrators who have made a significant impact to improve access and the quality of computer science education.

The award recognized Schwamman for her commitment to not only creating a computer science program in her school districts, but also recognizes the impact on the districts’ students as well as Schwamman’s further development of continuing education opportunities.

In Schwamman's award letter, CSTA Executive Director Jake Baskin said, “The selection committee wholeheartedly agreed with your colleague that your initiative and dedication to developing and growing computer science opportunities in your rural area inspiring and very worthy of recognition.”

When contacted by Baskin, she first thought it was a joke or a scam. However, after Basken assured her it wasn’t, Schwamman said.

“I was surprised and honored to be among those nominated and selected," she said. "This award is due to the work of our teachers and leaders and the work they are doing for our kids to continue excellence in education.”

Schwamman said the award is for both of her schools districts.

“This award means we are exposing kids and providing opportunities to all our students, from kindergarten through seniors,” she said. “From basic coding, to problem solving in teams, we are creating, collaborating, and communicating with our students. We are able provide them a basic understanding and knowledge on how the technology in the world around them works.

“It gives our rural students the same playing field and opportunities for success in their futures.”

Schwamman was nominated by Samantha Dahlby, K-12 education coordinator, NewBoCo., of Cedar Rapids. Dahlby oversees computer science initiatives across the state.

“Nominating Barb for the Computer Science Teachers Association's Administrator Impact Award was an easy decision,” Dahlby said. “She has helped the Osage CSD add computer science opportunities for all K-12 students. Not only does she support additional training for dedicated computer science teachers, but she sees the value in training for all K-12 teachers to understand the skills and benefits of integrating computer science concepts into other subject areas.

“Osage has really taken the initiative to grow their computer science education offerings for students very quickly, but with quality and sustainability in mind. This has been possible through their ability to maximize opportunities available to them and, most importantly, with the great working relationship Barb has with her teachers and the community.

“I am really impressed with how she listens to what teachers and students need, and then finds out where to help, and where to enable her staff to lead. I also love how she is keeping Osage as a whole in mind with how adding computer science can benefit the larger community through economic development.”

Schwamman added, “This award reflects on the awesome staff we have and their willingness to be lifelong learners and understand that our students need these skills to be successful. We are giving kids opportunities to learn and explore.”

Dahlby said, “This award will shine a big light on Barb's efforts and show the rest of the country Iowa is ready and willing to offer opportunities that make sense for our students."

Past recipients have included administrators in Los Angeles, New York, Connecticut and Arizona. 

CSTA is a membership organization which supports and promotes teaching computer science. It provides opportunities for K–12 teachers and their students to better understand computer science and to more successfully prepare themselves to teach and learn.

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