Yolanda Payne is a veteran teacher and Raspberry Pi Certified Educator. After discovering a love for computers at an early age (through RadioShack Tandy), Yolanda pursued degrees in Instructional/Educational Technology at Mississippi State University, the University of Florida, and the University of Georgia. She has worked as an instructional designer, webmaster, and teacher, and she loves integrating technology into her lessons. Here’s Yolanda’s story:
My journey to becoming a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator started when an esteemed mentor, Juan Valentin, tweeted about the awesome experience he had while attending Picademy. Having never heard of Picademy or the Raspberry Pi, I decided to check out the website and instantly became intrigued. I applied for a Raspberry Pi STEM kit from the Civil Air Patrol and received a Raspberry Pi and a ton of accessories. My curiosity would not be satisfied until I learned just what I could do with the box of goodies. So I decided to apply to Picademy and was offered a spot after being waitlisted. Thus my obsession with the possibilities of the Raspberry Pi began.
While at Picademy, I learned about Code Club. Code Club allows me to provide a variety of lessons tailored to my learners’ interests and skill levels, without me having to be an expert in all of the lessons. My students are 6th- to 8th-graders, and there are novice coders as well as intermediate and advanced coders in the group. We work through lessons together, and I get to be a student with them.
Although I may not have all the answers to their questions, I’m willing to work to secure whatever supplies they need for their project making. Whether through DonorsChoose, grants, student fundraising, or my personal contributions, I have found a myriad of resources to support their dreams of making.
My district has invested in a one-to-one computer initiative for students, and I am happy to help students become creators of technology and not just consumers. Having worked with Code Club through the Raspberry Pi Foundation, my students and I realize just how achievable this dream can be. I’m able to enhance my Pi skills by teaching a summer hacking camp at our local university, and next year, we have goals to host a Pi Jam! Thankfully, my principal is very supportive of our endeavours.
This year, a few of my students and my son were able to participate in Coolest Projects USA 2018 to show off their projects, including a home surveillance camera, a RetroPie arcade game, a Smart Mirror, and a photo booth and dash cam. They dedicated a lot of time and effort to bring these projects to life, often on their own and beyond the hours of our Code Club. This adventure has inspired them, and they are already recruiting other students to join them next year! The possibilities of the Raspberry Pi constantly rejuvenates my curiosity and enhances the creativity that I get to bring to my teaching — both inside and outside the classroom.
Learn more about the free programmes and resources Yolanda has used on her computer science education journey, such as Picademy, Code Club, and Coolest Projects, by visiting the Education section of our website.