Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

Geoff Boyer, one of five Master teachers of AP Computer Science Principles, was selected to instruct approximately 40 teachers from around the country and beyond at a training in July, held in Duluth, MN at the College of St. Scholastica.

Craig County is so small that it doesn’t even have a stoplight. Many people give citizens of Craig a little giggle when they hear that. However, Craig has proven over and over, year after year, that, “just because we are small, doesn’t mean we don’t make a mark.”

Geoff Boyer, a math and Mobile Computer Science Teacher in Craig County Public Schools, recently received a Certificate of Recognition from the Craig County School Board for being a Mentor and Master Teacher of Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles. “This is an honor for me,” Boyer shared. “I am truly excited about this opportunity that has been opened.”

And, truly opened it is! This is the first year that AP Computer Science Principles had been adopted by the College Board as an official AP course.

In April, Boyer attended a Basic information course where the National Science Foundation sponsored his trip to St. Paul, Minneapolis. He was joined by 15 other teachers who also attended the Mobile-CSP Master Teacher Orientation there. He had applied to go to the training and was selected because his vast experience in app development was an asset to the program they were looking to create.

The course is supported by the Mobile Computer Science Principles Project (Mobile CSP), an NSF-funded effort to provide a broad and rigorous introduction to computer science based on App Inventor, a mobile programming language for Android devices.

The April meeting forwarded him to being selected as one of five Master teachers of AP Computer Science Principles to instruct approximately 40 teachers from around the country and beyond at a training in July, held in Duluth, MN at the College of St. Scholastica. (Four teachers were from Puerto Rico, one was from Saipan and six had English as their second language.)

The intensive program in Duluth was known as Immersion Week. “In preparing for the course, I felt a little anxious, wondering if we could provide enough information so that the teachers would feel comfortable with the course,” Boyer shared. “We trained from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day on all topics related to the Comp Science Principles curriculum.”

AP Comp Science Principles was the largest launch of any AP course in College Board history. “The National Science Foundation awarded my group of 15 master teachers and 240 public and private school teachers $1.2 million to train teachers for the next three years through online and in-person cohorts,” Boyer passionately shared. “Our curriculum teachers computer science through Android Application Development.”

Throughout the course of this academic year he will be responsible for guiding and assisting teachers from Chicago, Atlanta and Houston. “I truly enjoyed meeting such a diverse group of teachers that were all open to learning and teaching a new course.”

“The course is based on the College Board’s emerging Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles curriculum framework for introductory computer science,” Boyer said. “In this course students learn computer science by building socially useful mobile apps.” In addition to programming and computer science principles, the course is project-based and emphasizes writing, communication, collaboration and creativity.

Boyer shared that this is the second year that some US teachers have taught this course, however, his students at Craig County have been exposed to developing android apps for the past five years.  “Every grade from second to 12th has been represented in these app classes,” Boyer added. Many of his students will explain that in addition to developing android apps, they publish them as well. “To my knowledge, we are the only school who offers the ability to have their apps reach a global audience,” he said.

“I would like to say that we are very proud of Mr. Boyer and are lucky to have him as a teacher in our school division.” Jeanette Warwick, CCPS Superintendent said.

“My expertise is not in the Computer Science field as much as it is in programming Android Apps,” Boyer explained. “I have taught a class for the past five years which showed students how to develop, program and publish apps.” He added that in the five years prior, he taught students to program the TI-83 calculators.  “The switch to Android Apps seemed more useful and a natural move considering the direction of technology.”

Boyer shared the one thing he was bringing back to share with his students was the technical information dealing with computer science which was provided by the other master teachers, which has made him more knowledgeable.

Boyer’s students continued to design apps that have been downloaded from St. Louis, Boston, San Diego and many other large cities and some from other countries. He also has several students who have received over 500 downloads from their apps and two students have reached over 1000.

Some students, with the guidance of their parents, have opted to charge for their created App as well, which is common in the ‘tech’ world today.

In the next school year, Boyer will have two classes. “The first will be mostly the same lessons with new students and the second class will be a follow-up course for my experienced students.” There are currently 20 junior and seniors students signed up for next year’s class. He has also taught the second through seventh grade-gifted students the past two years.

“My students bring social media savvy and technology experience to my class and we hope to pass on what we have learned together,” Boyer said. “We will be working with local business owners who require these skills in order to thrive with the importance of today’s media engagements.”

For the next three years of being a Master teacher, Boyer said, “I feel we had a fantastic start and I hope to be a part of the continuing process to grow the curriculum.” Still, he added, “The best part of the trip was seeing my wife and boys at the airport!”

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