PHS Profile: Claudette Guy encourages students to pursue programming

photo: Nathan Drezner

photo: Nathan Drezner

Born and raised in Virginia, Claudette Guy currently teaches Python Programming at Princeton High School. Guy graduated from the College of William & Mary, double majoring in computer science and Russian studies. After graduating from college, Guy became a programmer and trainer of adult programmers, afterward working as a substitute teacher at the Cranbury School. In February of 2013, she joined the PHS staff. Guy enjoys reading, running, and spending time with her husband and two sons, Ethan and Ryan.


What inspired you to be a computer science teacher?

When I was a programmer, I read an article in the New York Times about science professionals going back into the classroom to help high school teachers teach computer science, because obviously, high school teachers don’t have the background to teach it. The article talked about how there’s a great need for more students who are educated in computer science, because it is so pervasive in our world right now, [and] how companies like Google are going overseas to find people with those skills. It was kind of an “Aha!” moment for me … I have the programming background, but I really enjoy working with young people. I’m really passionate about the field, so I kind of feel like it’s where I found my life calling.

How do you think technology such as computers and the Internet have affected our lives, and how do you think technology will continue to impact us in the future?

When I was in college, the Internet was really just starting—we didn’t have things like email, for example. It has obviously changed a ton. I think it’s made it easier for us to communicate asynchronously … which is good in a lot of ways, but it’s also bad in a lot of ways in that it’s really easy to get distracted from the task at hand. I think students will have to find a way to accomplish [their] goals; be able to block out distractions. As for the future, I have no idea. I think my students and all the students here at Princeton High School are … wickedly smart and creative. [They] think outside of the box. I couldn’t have imagined that [we’d] have the technology today many years ago when I was in school, so it’s hard to think what would be in the future … I think it’s going to be something we can’t even imagine.

What are your interests and hobbies?

I have two kids, so a lot of my interests and hobbies revolve around … a baseball field, or helping someone finish homework, or Boy Scouts. I really enjoy running and doing things in the outdoors … I love to read; I will completely shut down everything to read a really good book—it’s a problem. So a lot of times I don’t start books because I have too much to do. I enjoy lots of things …  I enjoy history, I really love learning. I would really love to take an art appreciation class, but I don’t have time.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in programming but intimidated by it?

Don’t be intimidated, it is very doable. It’s time consuming, but if you’re willing to put the time in and figure it out, I think a lot of people can accomplish the goal of learning how to code. I would encourage them to try looking at and trying some of the Hour of Code tutorials; it’s a great little place to start but I think people get intimidated by the fact that they already know someone who knows how to code. Just remember that those people had to start somewhere too. Everybody has got to start somewhere—like when you start a new sport, you don’t expect to be good at it at first. You just have to be persistent … and I would encourage them to come take my class.

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