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CS Spotlight: Malaika Bryant Advocates for CS Education in Kern County

January 18, 2023
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California school districts are where the rubber hits the road when it comes to local implementation of statewide policies to expand access to computer science education. In Kern County, with Bakersfield at its county seat, Educator Development Director Malaika Bryant has been a key supporter of CS teachers and students. Recently, Malaika shared with CSforCA her inspirational work facilitating successful CS partnership programs that prepare students for an increasingly digitized future. Read on for an edited version of our conversation:

How did you get involved in computer science education?

My role provides me with the opportunity to support educators in a variety of ways. This includes searching for resources and working with partners to develop a comprehensive system designed ultimately to enhance possibilities for the students, teachers and communities we serve.

Why is CS education equity important to you?

All education equity is important to me. CS education is one component within our system that can open pathways that a student may not have had the opportunity to imagine before being exposed to new ideas and skills offered within the curriculum. Every student deserves to have access to meaningful learning experiences that not only build skills, but also provide a path to new ideas, ways of thinking, and opportunities. Having a teacher who has had the opportunity to develop expertise and has been provided the support to build that same capacity in others, leads to systemic shifts in access and opportunity for students.

What does the CS education landscape look like in Kern County?

Currently, 1% of the student population of Kern County is enrolled in Core Computer Science Coursework, and 54% of unified and/or high school districts are offering CSA courses for students.

Can you describe your role at Kern County Office of Education?

I love my job! My work is all about connecting educators to opportunities and working with partners to create meaningful pathways for learning and growth. As the Director of Educator Development, I oversee several programs that provide opportunities for educators and students to learn new skills as well as develop capacity – first in themselves, and then in others. 

Can you share a statewide initiative that you help implement at the local level?

Notably, we support CS education through the Computer Science Supplementary Authorization Incentive Grant Program, which operates in partnership with CSU Bakersfield to support credentialed teachers as they earn the computer science authorization. Our program provides tuition to 35 teachers per annual cohort – a total of 140 teachers over 4 years! With this partnership, we are building on an existing program and leveraging additional opportunities for teachers, providing the full program at no cost for each participant earning the CS authorization.

What is your vision for CS education in your school district?

I hope to build upon the extraordinary work the team at CSU Bakersfield is doing with the Computer Science Supplementary Authorization Incentive Grant Program, as they already have an amazing system of recruitment, instruction, and support in place. Additionally, I’d like to increase communication, awareness, and collaboration with district partners to leverage the expertise of these CS Authorization holders to build out course support and clubs to increase student access. Then, in subsequent years, we will continue to work with district partners and CSUB to intentionally build out CS pathways, using this resource as an opportunity to build capacity and access in this area.

What advice would you give a teacher looking to get into CS?

Do it! The best learning opportunities come out of the desire to learn, grow and follow an interest or passion. Especially given the importance of computer science education, this is an excellent pathway for teachers to help students create an extraordinary future!

Anything else you'd like to share with us?

I am excited to work with others and consider how we can learn and grow together, especially if it means we are also creating opportunities for others.

To learn more about the Computer Science Supplementary Authorization Incentive Grant program and learn how your district can get involved, check out the Computer Science Supplementary Authorization Incentive Grant Program from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Find out more about the CS Supplementary Authorization in California today with CSforCA's Become a Computer Science Teacher resource.

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