Dev Catalyst began in 2013 with the mission of improving technology education and growing tech talent among West Tennessee students. Since then, students from across Tennessee and beyond have joined the program. Dev Catalyst works to cultivate student tech talent in web development, physical computing, UX and data management.
Since it’s early stages Dev Catalyst has grown immensely, partly because of a great team driving and directing the program. Our newest addition is Christen Harper. We don’t consider Christen a new face around here simply because she’s been working with Dev Catalyst as an intern for the past year. We’re excited to welcome her to the team full-time as Technology Education Coordinator for Dev Catalyst in May. She will be graduating from Union University with a major in Graphic Design and a minor in Computer Science.
“Working at theCO has given me an edge because I’m learning the education side of things and I can see first hand how industry professionals are applying these skills,” she says. “Dev Catalyst has always been informed by current and up to date industry standards. We work closely with Sodium Halogen, a UX firm, owned by one of the CO:founders, William Donnell. I can turn to their team as I’m writing the curriculum and ask if something is relevant to web development or if it is outdated. CSS, HTML and other languages change every year and we’ve made sure that our courses are as up to date as they can be and also meet industry best practices.”
Along with working as an intern for our Dev Catalyst program Christen has spent many summers working as a Help Desk Assistant for a high school in her hometown. Through this experience, she became accustomed to troubleshooting technology with teachers.
“I know how many systems that teachers are expected to learn and use in the classroom. There are so many things educators are expected to learn. I think what makes Dev Catalyst most helpful is that it is built for teachers, specifically for teachers in Tennessee. A big part of our new platform is including CTE standards. We now have in-built ways to track those standards and have markers in place to track and grade each student’s progress,” she says. “Our hope is that this will continue to make Dev Catalyst easy to incorporate into the classroom.”
Dev Catalyst provides professional development workshops built with the teacher in mind. Educator Workshops range from VEX Robotics and makerspaces to data management and design. Each workshop is made to equip educators to teach their students about technology with confidence. All participating Dev Catalyst schools may attend any of the Educator Workshops at no cost. Attendees receive a certificate of attendance as documentation for professional development hours.
Christen says, “Teachers are really fun to work with! Both of my parents are educators and I’ve always had a lot of respect for educators and specifically the technology they manage in the classroom. If Dev Catalyst is going to be another program to learn then we want it to be practical and easy to use. I look forward to tweaking the platform in the next few years to continue to make it practical for the classroom and hopefully something that excites teachers.”