Computer Science Office

September Newsletter

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A Message From Computer Science Supervisor Nicholas Grzeda

As we begin the 2022-2023 school year, I am excited to share our first monthly newsletter. Each month, the Computer Science Office will highlight how teachers and schools throughout the county are integrating Computer Science and Computational Thinking into their core content. There will also be links to various resources that have been created by our Instructional Facilitators of Computer Science and the teachers they collaborate with.

The focus of this month's newsletter is to provide you with information regarding the vision and mission of the Computer Science Office, introduce you to our team, and provide you with some beginning-of-the-year resources.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Computer Science Office is to prepare all learners with essential Computational Thinking and Computer Science skills by facilitating meaningful, content-integrated learning experiences that support the LCPS Profile of a Graduate and the Culturally Responsive Framework.

Vision Statement

Vision: Fuel Integration. Spark Inspiration. Ignite Innovation.

Logo: Our logo has three flames wrapped in French brackets, representing key parts of our vision. The orange flame represents fueling integration, the red flame represents sparking inspiration, and the blue flame represents igniting innovation. French brackets are commonly associated with computer science programming.

Our Team

Nicholas Grzeda: Computer Science Supervisor

Since 2016, Nick has been working collaboratively with colleagues at LCPS and around the Commonwealth of Virginia to expand Computer Science Education for all students, and to build capacity for teachers wanting to teach and integrate Computer Science. With the creation of the K-8 Computer Science Standards of Learning in 2017, Nick has had a leadership role in working to integrate the SOLs into the curriculum and provide students with opportunities in Computer Science fields while enrolled in LCPS. Nick is currently a Region 4 Representative on the Regional CS Division Leader Council and a representative of the Virginia Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) plan.

Kristina Lee: Experiential Learning Coordinator

Kristina Lee is the Experiential Learning Coordinator in the Computer Science Office. Her role is to connect LCPS high school students with authentic learning experiences (internships, mentorships) in the field of Computer Science. Kristina is entering her third year at LCPS and her eighth year in education.

Kristina grew up in central Virginia. She graduated with her bachelor's degree in Communications and a M.Ed. in Education from Mary Baldwin University.

Jill Buss: Elementary IFCS

Jill Buss has been in elementary education for over 25 years. Before becoming a Instructional Facilitator of Computer Science she was an Instructional Facilitator, Technology at Seldens Landing and Moorefield Station Elementary. During her time at Moorefield Station she helped to implement the Computer Immersion program, Code to the Future. This program taught students and teachers in grades K-5 how to integrate Computer Science into their daily instruction. She is proud to now be a part of the LCPS Computer Science team in which she works with eight elementary schools to share her passion for integrating Computer Science into the curriculum.

Shawn DeLuca: Elementary IFCS

Shawn DeLuca has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. Shawn holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from St. Joseph's College and a Master of Education Degree in Digital Learning Design from George Mason University.

Shawn has been an advocate for Computer Science integration for many years and has presented at the Code to the Future Summit, Future of Education Technology Conference, International Society for Technology in Education, Virginia Society for Technology in Education, and Inspire Loudoun. In 2020, he was named the Virginia Computer Science Educator of the Year by CodeVA.

As an Instructional Facilitator of Computer Science, Shawn works with teachers and students to help integrate Computer Science and Computational Thinking strategies into their classroom.

Rebecca Gratz: Elementary IFCS

Rebecca (Becca) Gratz is currently employed as an Elementary Instructional Facilitator of Computer Science for Loudoun County Public Schools in Northern Virginia. She is in her 12th year of teaching. Becca has a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communications, Event Planning and a Master's in Elementary Education both from Frostburg State University. She taught pre-k for one year in West Virginia before transferring to third grade, which she taught for seven years.

Becca’s passion lies in Computer Science and PBL. Becca holds several certifications that include: Google Certified Educator, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, MaKey MaKey Ambassador, FlipGrid CE, SEE (SMART Exemplary Educator), Prodigy Champion Educator, and BrainPOP Certified Educator, along with several more.

Susan Journell: Elementary IFCS

Susan Journell has enjoyed serving the teachers and students in LCPS for over 30 years. In her current position, Susan works with teachers to integrate the Virginia Computer Science Standards for Learning into their core instruction.

Susan believes that Computer Science integration creates an authentic learning environment that empowers students to take ownership of their learning.

Kathy Nekic: Elementary IFCS

Kathy joined the Computer Science Office in 2021 as an Elementary Instructional Facilitator of Computer Science, but has over 30 years of experience in education. For the 2022-23 school year she will work with nine schools throughout Loudoun County. At each of her assigned schools, she will work with administrators and staff to build the Computer Science/Computational Thinking culture while integrating the Virginia Computer Science SOLs into core curriculum. Along with the other Computer Science Facilitators, she collaborates weekly on designing professional development that focuses on the integration of Computer Science and Computational Thinking into core content subjects.

Abby Spessard: Elementary IFCS

Abby Spessard has been with Loudoun County Public Schools since 2005. Her career at LCPS began with teaching 2nd grade at Rolling Ridge Elementary. Abby transitioned to the Instructional Facilitator of Technology role in 2013 at the same location. In 2019, she became the IFT at Frederick Douglass Elementary. Abby has participated in the Hour of Code with her schools by providing support to teachers with resources as well as engaging in co-teaching opportunities.

She was the PROPEL lead teacher at Frederick Douglass for two years where she saw amazing successes after giving students access to learning in a new collaborative environment, and she witnessed many students emerge as leaders.

Abby is passionate about making sure all students are able to find a way to show their learning and also encouraging teachers to believe in and inspire their students. She looks forward to continuing to support schools in Leesburg with integrating Computer Science!

Amy Stelly: Elementary IFCS

Amy grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She earned her bachelor's degree in Child and Family Development from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

The 2022-23 school year will be her 16th year in Loudoun County and second year as an Elementary Instructional Facilitator of Computer Science. She works with nine schools throughout Loudoun County to collaborate with teachers as they integrate the Virginia Computer Science SOLs into core curriculum.

Sharon Brandon: Middle School IFCS

Sharon Brandon has been an educator in Northern Virginia her entire professional career, predominantly teaching and facilitating in Loudoun County Public Schools. She has extensive education and experience focused in both elementary and middle schools. A passionate curiosity has made her a lifelong learner with a desire to instill the same passion for learning in others. Her mission is to promote authentic, meaningful instructional experiences for all students, incorporating Computer Science & Computational Thinking principles within every domain.

Angela Fraser: Middle School IFCS

Angela (Angie) Fraser has taught Math and Computer Science at the middle school level. Prior to becoming an educator, she was a Software Engineer. Angie wants all students to explore Computer Science and the many ways in which it positively impacts our lives. In her current role, Angie works with teachers and students to help integrate Computer Science and Computational Thinking strategies into their Middle School classrooms.

Michael Speidel: Middle School IFCS

Michael (Mike) Speidel has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. During his time as a educator he has held positions as a classroom teacher, school based professional developer, district based professional developer, Instructional Designer for LCPS’s Virtual High School, and Aerospace Educator based at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Outside of the classroom, Mike has been an advocate for Educational Technology & Computer Science integration. He has presented at multiple educational conferences and has served on the executive board of VSTE as Vice President and Treasurer. In his current role, Mike works with teachers and students to help integrate Computer Science and Computational Thinking strategies into their Middle School classrooms.

Elementary Computer Science Resources

Middle School Computer Science Resources