2023 GSBA Leading Edge Award

NCSS Wins 2023 GSBA Leading Edge Award for Girls Coding Initiative
Posted on 12/01/2023
Leading Edge Award winnersNewton County School System (NCSS) proudly announces its recognition as a recipient of the 2023 Leading Edge Award from the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) in honor of its outstanding Girls Coding Initiative. This prestigious award was presented to NCSS Superintendent, Dr. Duke Bradley, III, and School Board Chair, Shakila Henderson-Baker, by representatives from GSBA at the GSBA/GSSA (Georgia School Superintendent’s Association) Annual Conference in Atlanta.

Dr. Jennifer Williams, NCSS Director of Instructional Technology and Media Services, highlighted the origin of the Girls Coding Initiative, stating, "The initiative, which originated in 2015 as a small club at one school, quickly evolved into the NCSS InspiHER Code Like a Girl program in 2016, aiming to reach a wider audience of girls."

Williams emphasized the program's impact, explaining, "Through the InspiHER program, girls across the district actively participate in coding and technology-related activities. Additionally, they are invited to the annual InspiHER Code Like a Girl conference, specifically tailored to the needs of Newton County students."

The conference features keynote speakers and up to four learning sessions, covering diverse topics such as Coding Robots with Dash and Dot, Producing Music with Amazon Music, and Creating Digital Games with Microsoft. Attendees, highly engaged throughout, acquire new skills fostering innovation and creativity.

Leaders and experts in STEM and computer science, including in-house presenters like Dr. Williams and guest speakers from Amazon and the Georgia Department of Education, contribute to the conference. Students also engage in meaningful discussions and collaborative activities based on innovative lessons, presentations, and conference messages.

Dr. Williams emphasized the program's significance, stating, "Research underscores the gender gap in computer science, with only 24% of computer scientists being women. Moreover, interest in computer science declines significantly after fourth grade. Our Girls Coding Initiative is pivotal in addressing this gap, providing opportunities for female students to explore and excel in these fields."

Dr. Shelia Thomas, Chief Strategy and Support Services Officer, highlighted the broader impact of technology education, stating, "Newton County School System is committed to enhancing students' achievement in science, literacy, and math. Studies show that learning technology and coding improve both hard skills, such as computational thinking, writing, and problem-solving, and soft skills, like collaboration and communication."

She added, "InspiHER participants not only acquire a diverse skill set but also gain hands-on experiences, aligning with our school system's vision that 'all students will be well-rounded and prepared for the future.'"

"We are immensely proud to receive the 2023 Leading Edge Award from the Georgia School Boards Association for our Girls Coding Initiative,” said Henderson-Baker. “This recognition is a testament to the dedication of the team of educators who established the InspiHer Code Like a Girl program, the enthusiasm of our students, and the forward-thinking approach of Newton County School System."

She continued, "The Girls Coding Initiative not only empowers our female students to excel in technology and coding but also embodies our commitment to providing a well-rounded education that prepares all students for the future. We appreciate the support of the Georgia School Boards Association and look forward to continuing our efforts to inspire and equip the next generation of innovators in Newton County."