Community Member Profile: Chinma Uche

CREC Academy of Aerospace & Engineering

About Chinma Uche

In rural Nigeria in the 1950s and 1960s educators were community leaders, organizing people for social good and were looked at as great role models. Most students could not go to school because their parents could not afford their school fees. I was fortunate to be the daughter of a pioneer educator in my town and had the opportunity to go to school. My mother (the educator, an orphan supported by the church) involved my siblings and I in community activities and we were encouraged to share what we learned at school with other children who could not go to school. This was my early introduction to teaching, a noble profession.

I was also inspired by my elementary school teachers who sacrificed a lot during the Nigerian Civil War to make sure that we continued to go to school, even at times under a tree shed with constant bombardment. Furthermore, I had great college professors who loved their jobs and communicated through their lives and examples that teaching is fulfilling and fun. Of particular mention is Professor John Amazigo who mentored me and suggested that I go to graduate school.

After 34 years of teaching mathematics across three continents (Africa, Europe and North America), I consider my greatest contribution to be the impact my teaching and extra-curricular activities have had on children’s lives. I have students who have earned their Ph.D in mathematics education and also students who are working in companies, such as Google, that are changing society. I have other students in computer security whose interest was triggered by the computer science (CS) courses they took in our school. Many of my students are involved in volunteer activities in their communities and are making great differences. Looking back at my early years, I benefitted from my teachers’ belief that I could affect my world positively, even when we had little to nothing. I therefore work to build belief/confidence in my students through in-class and extracurricular activities. My work has been greatly supported by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA, www.csta.acm.org) where I run professional development activities, formulate and disseminate materials to bring computer science to all k-12 students in our state and nationwide to enable all students benefit from today’s digital society. Through our efforts, the Connecticut Commissioner of Education established a CS Advisory Council to help bring CS to all Connecticut students and I serve in this council. In fact, through our work in the Computer Science Advocacy and Leadership Team (CSALT) of the CSTA and working in partnership with Code.org (www.code.org), we are bringing computer science to students worldwide. I am a founding member of both CSALT and the Connecticut chapter of CSTA (CTCSTA, www.ctcsta.org) and I have served CTCSTA as its president since its inception. I have also worked with the College Board, as an official pilot instructor, in the development of a new AP CS course which was launched in 2016.

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