Vickie Hallisey: Computer Science Teacher

courtesy of Cup of Java

As her alarm clock hits 5:00 a.m sharp on Monday morning, Vickie Hallisey, in Maryland, is getting ready to start her day bright and early. Being a high school computer science teacher is no easy feat -- especially when she arrives at school 45 minutes earlier than her students in order to get her materials all set out and ready. The early bird gets the worm, they say. Hallisey couldn't agree more.

Vickie Hallisey, even as the profound coder and computer science teacher that she is today, didn't start out with an interest in computer science. In fact, her early career experience holds that she was a music teacher in an elementary school! But, as computer science became increasingly crucial in our world, Hallisey decided it was time for a change. Thus, she diligently dedicated years to earning a night-school Master's Degree in computer science, with a special dedication to cybersecurity, at Johns Hopkins University, all the while maintaining a day job. "I can't say I remember any movie from during those three years," Hallisey says.

Now, as a high school computer science teacher, Hallisey tries to encourage her students to pursue it as a career. Not only would her students learn the hard lessons of how to code, they would also learn the triumphs and thrills of finally their own code and project work. Furthermore, Hallisey also teaches them the importance of perseverance in computer science. "Sometimes, it's just that one line of code where you left out a semi-colon somewhere," Hallisey explains, where leaving out that one semi-colon can cause astronomical errors. But, once those errors are fixed, coding leaves her students feeling like they want to "jump up and say, 'I did it!'."

Being a woman in computer science does present its fair share of challenges; standing and fighting alone or in a small group out of hundreds is never easy. "I walked in [to University class] on the first day, and I was maybe one out of two girls in the entire classroom," Hallisey stated. But, the most important lesson Vickie Hallisey learned in order to combat this challenge was to get over the mental block; if others could do it, why couldn't she?

As we stand in our present-day 21st century, computer science is growing to be more crucial than ever. As Vickie Hallisey puts it, being prepared for a challenge is important, but being prepared to combat that challenge is even more valuable.