The Constellations Center for Equity in Computing at Georgia Tech recently welcomed new fellows Yolanda Payne and Sababu Barashango – joining veteran fellow Terry Foster – to play a critical role in the center’s mission in educating and empowering teachers to teach advanced placement (AP) computer science courses. All of the teachers are based in an Atlanta Public School (APS) high school, and for many it is their first time teaching the subject. Payne will primarily support teachers at North Atlanta High School and Drew Charter School, while Barashango will be guide teachers at Grady High School and Douglas High School.
The fellows often visit the schools to survey the classroom and provide feedback and guidance to the teachers. Together, the fellow and teacher work on how to improve the teacher’s skillset and knowledge of computer science and how to effectively engage the students.
“My role is to help the teacher as much as I can. I’m here to help empower the teacher and keep them feeling empowered so that they can better assist their students,” said Barashango.
The fellows also facilitate professional development workshops throughout the year and write curriculum for the center’s hybrid instructional-online platform.
“Yolanda and Sababu are incredible additions to our team and we are excited for what all they will accomplish within their schools,” said Lien Diaz, director of educational innovation and leadership at Constellations.
Both Payne and Barashango bring an extensive amount of teaching and computer science experience to the table.
Payne holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, two educational specialist degrees in educational and instructional technology with a certification in diversity and inclusion, and a master’s of education in educational technology. She has previously worked as a librarian at Clarke County Schools, and was a fifth grade teacher in Gwinnett County Schools. Payne was most recently a middle school science and English and language arts teacher in the Clarke County School District. In Clarke County, Payne also served as the STEAM coordinator, media specialist, and Girls Who Code facilitator, among many other positions.
Payne is an avid fan of Raspberry Pi and is a certified educator in their programming, as well as a Level 1 and Level 2 Google certified educator. She has previous experience as a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Summer Institute Ambassador and as a Pathways to Possibilities After-School Program Curriculum Developer.
“I’m thrilled to be a Constellations fellow because there are so many opportunities for students and teachers to engage with technology that can advance our ways of living. Computer science is embedded in the world around us and it is important that all students have access to the power knowledge of CS provides, “ said Payne.
Barashango also brings a wealth of knowledge to his assigned schools. Barashango earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and French from Morehouse College and a master of arts in mathematics education from Emory University. He spent nearly 23 years at Dekalb County Schools as an educator and webmaster where he was named Teacher of the Year twice.
As a Dekalb educator, Barashango helped write the curriculum for the computer science principles course in the district and served as the chairperson of the school improvement and program advisory committees. He has previously taught courses such as AP Computer Science Principles, Programming, Games, Apps and Society, AP Computer Science A, Accelerated Math II and III, and AP Calculus AB.