“Humans of Sacred Heart” – Mrs. Ana Nystedt

Why do you believe it is beneficial for students to begin learning computer science in middle and high school?

“‘Program or be programmed.’  All our students are ‘digital natives’ as they have grown up surrounded by technology and are constant users of computers (in any shape or form) and the internet.  I believe that it is very important that our students increase their understanding of these technologies at a very early age so they will not become passive users that can be easily manipulated.  Students can use these tools to their own advantage in order to be more efficient and create new solutions.  Technology is utilized in every subject or field of study and continues evolving.  Thus, I believe a computer science foundation will help our students to complement their individual talents with the best use of computing power, which is a very strong combination.”

How do you prepare students for not only collegiate studies in computer science, but also the male-dominated professional field?

“This year, I am teaching an introductory course to programming.  The course aims to introduce every ninth-grade student to computer science, since I believe it will be necessary for their collegiate studies, regardless of major.  In addition, I teach the more advanced AP computer science course for students who want to further their knowledge.  The first ‘computer programmer’ was actually a woman named Ada Lovelace, who created the first algorithm even without a computer in the 17th century.  She was the first one to recognize that machines had applications beyond calculations.  After her, we have had many female role models such as Admiral Grace Hopper, who invented the first compiler.  Every year we celebrate Computer Science Week in December, near Grace Hopper’s birthday.  This year during Computer Science Week at Sacred Heart Greenwich, we had the opportunity to host two female speakers working in the industry at IBM and Linkedin.  They spoke to our students about ‘Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning’ and shared some of their challenges as women in the industry.  As a software engineer myself, extra hard-work, self-confidence, and continuous learning are aspects that I frequently highlight to our students, and they were reaffirmed during these talks.”

What is your favorite part about teaching computer science to Sacred Heart Greenwich students?

“My favorite part about teaching computer science to Sacred Heart students is to see their growth, their ‘aha!’ moments, their eagerness to learn, and their curiosity.  To have the opportunity to be part of their learning journey is very rewarding.  I can’t wait to see how they use their computer science skills in their professional lives.”

The King Street Chronicle thanks Mrs. Ana Nystedt, Upper School Computer Science Teacher, for her contributions to “Humans of Sacred Heart.”