Statement from Sandra Czajka

​​ RIVERSIDE | BROOKFIELD HIGH SCHOOL

DISTRICT 208 160 RIDGEWOOD ROAD RIVERSIDE, ILLINOIS 60546-2408

Sandra Czajka, MATHEMATICS DEPARTMENT TEL: 708.442.7500 Ext. 2224

Dear WE Schools, As a computer science teacher, I’m continuously searching for ways to engage my students with the power of programming. I want students to leave my class understanding the material and realizing CS provides the tools necessary to make positive impacts in the world. Approximately three and one half years ago I was introduced to WE and found a way to truly make my students see how CS can change the world. In 2015, I was asked by the College Board to consider whether we wanted to try and incorporate service learning in AP Computer Science. At that time I was introduced to WE. I was immediately impressed by the values of the organization and the work they were accomplishing around the world. I especially liked the fact they were promoting ways for the youth to discover ways to make our world a better place using what they are learning in their classes in school. Although I was initially impressed with WE, I wanted to see for myself the work they were doing internationally for myself. I chose to travel to Kenya at my own expense to see first hand what work WE was doing in the villages and how it compared to what I was hearing about and seeing online. I had high expectations based on the presentations and information I gathered before my trip. I must admit I was surprised when these expectations were exceeded! My time in Kenya was life changing. The attention to detail to help the local people improve their lives while maintaining their culture was exceptional. WE also made sure the volunteers learned about the culture of the local people and found ways to continue to help others upon our return home. At the same time we always felt well cared for and safe. Since then I have also travelled with WE to Ecuador for an Educator Immersion Experience. Once again I was in awe of the work WE is doing in this part of the world and came home ready to inspire my students with the wonderful stories of the people in the Amazon. My students and I have found WE’s resources to be extremely helpful in learning about ways to do service and about issues both locally and globally. Even more impressive is when any of us have ever needed more direction or questions answered, the people at WE are always willing to talk to not only me, but also my students in helping us find the information needed. My school has also brought in a speaker from WE to help inspire the students about service learning. The speaker talked WITH the students, not AT the students, and had a very positive impact on the students getting their projects started. One of the things my students have appreciated the most about WE is the suggestions they have for how to help people in a variety of ways. Not all service needs to be about raising money. My students have learned about helping people with direct service and also the importance of service via advocacy. Although WE has their own specific projects they run around the world, students are encouraged to do work that means the most to them. WE is clearly open to students doing service for any groups, even if they have absolutely nothing to do with WE’s projects. Although WE has a variety of partnerships and sponsors, at no time is there any pressure for me or my students to do specific work or use any given resources or companies. After the service projects are completed, we have discussed things students would like to do in the future if they continue to study CS. Hearing the students talk about their dreams to help people as they pursue future careers is one of my favorite parts of my work. I believe our work in AP with WE will encourage all students, especially young women, to pursue careers in CS because it allows them to make a difference in the world with what they learn in class. I am very proud of the work I have done on AP with WE and I believe this is one of the most important projects of my teaching career. Sincerely,

Sandra L. Czajka Mathematics/Computer Science Teacher

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