LITTLE VILLAGE — A South Side high school teacher and one of her students are being recognized for their work to advance and promote computer science education across genders.
Katie Roznai, a teacher at World Language since 2018, was awarded the National Center for Women & Information Technology Educator Award for Aspirations in Computing. In her time at the school, she’s taught chemistry and an introductory computer science course.
The award is given to a teacher who encourages “women, genderqueer, or non-binary students to explore their interest in computing and technology,” recognizing their work to “to promote gender equity in computing,” according to its website.
Roznai started leading the after-school club Girls Who Code before the pandemic, calling it a “safe space” for kids to try out coding. She said a lot of kids might have a stereotype of what a “coder” looks like, and she wants to push past those perceptions.
“I think it’s really important to have just a space for people who are generally underrepresented in computer science where they can kind of learn in a different way without the same kind of people taking over the conversation,” Roznai said.
Krystal Morales, a senior at World Language, said she joined Girls Who Code as a sophomore after taking Roznai’s Exploring Computer Science class.
Roznai said she nominated Morales for a student award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology Educator Award after watching the high schooler develop a love for computer science that’s grown into her wanting to pursue a college degree in the field.
The student award honors a student for computing-related achievements “and encourages them to pursue their passions,” according to the website.
“I was kind of proud of myself,” Morales said. “I joined [Girls Who Code] because I thought it would be something new. … I think it’s good for women. People want to change the view that there are more men” in the field.
Morales’ award comes with scholarship and internship opportunities for students.
Roznai said Morales was one of two students who would tune into Girls Who Code after school when all students were doing online learning.
“I’m really excited to see what’s she’s going to bring into the world here,” Roznai said.
Roznai’s award comes with a small cash prize and money for professional development, which she said she’s excited to use to grow the Girls Who Code club and carve out more space for computer science in the school.
Looking ahead, Roznai is growing the computer science curriculum by bringing AP Computer Science Principles classes to the school. She said she also hopes to boost participation in Girls Who Code with students back doing in-person learning.
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