Career Compass Awards
School/District: Oregon Charter Academy
Job Title: CTE Computer Science Master Teacher
Prior to becoming a teacher, Ms. Catherine Hay worked for 15 years with the Army Corp of Engineers in Information Technology(IT). She knows how invaluable practical experience is to anyone’s career. Problem solving, professional skills, and communication are essential in any job.
She started as a summer hire IT Technician in her senior year of high school. From there, she networked and was able to obtain an internship, which led to a position. Over time she became the IT Manager of the Portland District overseeing, hardware, software, networking, and web design staff. All this would have not been possible without the experience gained early on, since there were no training programs in IT or CS at that time.
Paying it forward, she decided to help at local schools and help students see the possibilities and fun of math and science and bring a STEM math class to local area schools in small towns called Warren and Scappoose, Oregon. By engaging students with hands-on activities relating math and science, she served as a role model for young girls wanting to enter STEM fields. She was constantly told that she should become a teacher by parents and teachers, so she took on that challenge and decided to go back to school and become a Mathematics teacher and earn a Master’s Degree in Teaching Mathematics. Her volunteer class was very popular with teachers and students and she volunteered for 7 years, starting with 3rd graders and then with 4th – 5th graders, all while also studying for her degree.
The 1st set of students she had graduated in 2017, and all the students she taught were on a path to a STEM career field. It made her so proud to be that person to have some impact. She still sees her students today and they all remember the experiments and fun they had learning. This reminds her that she made the right choice.
Blending her career with her teaching experience, she enjoys helping students set a path to pursue their career goals in Information Technology through college or certification. By establishing a computer science pathway of relevant classes, computer labs, certifications, and experiences, students gain industry knowledge of 21st century professional skills for any job and are exposed to the different IT study paths.
“If students have an interest and are willing to make the effort, there is a world of possibilities waiting for them. We are providing those stepping stones.” Catherine Hay, CTE Computer Science Master Teacher.