Humans of Plano West: Robin Bailey

Reo Lee

Robin Bailey, a computer science teacher who has recently been named a 2021 NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Dallas/Fort Worth Affiliate Winner, looks back on her career and all the other things she has achieved on and off-campus.

“I started out wanting to be a vet, then decided that I couldn’t not put an animal down that didn’t need to be put down. I decided to go into computers, or to science, and then I did a class in my senior year. I loved the computer and programming parts so that’s what I went into from there on.
I knew I wanted to be a teacher and it was going to be in science, but then computer science came in and it was just so much fun. It was math, and I was good at math, then the algorithm and stuff like that. It was either going to be math or science, well, then computer science fits both of them so.”

“I have taught middle school through high school. Middle school is difficult since they are growing up and their brains are hanging, their attitudes are changing. It’s not their fault, it’s just, it is what it is. They are trying to test the gray area, and trying to get out of the gray area one way or another- it’s not always the best way. I like this age group. Most of the time, senioritis hits and it gets kind of “meh,” but most of the time you can keep them motivated. It’s like the last step before they go out into the real world. Getting something wrong is not necessarily a bad thing; learning from getting it wrong is a good thing so mistakes are good things too. That’s something I try to tell my kids. Even if you answer wrong, learning that is an opportunity.”

“Everything now has some type of computer involved in it. The best field right now, the hot field, is cybersecurity because if you think about the pandemic opening up online- doing and buying stuff online, they’re going to have to secure a lot more stuff. Cybersecurity- you got to know some knowledge of coding. My class is straight upcoding and learning how- the ins and outs of coding. I ask them to know, when they first come in, is to know how to turn on the computer. They’ll learn everything else. Any field that they’ll go in will have some sort of computer or technology so, they’ll at least learn the foundations for free instead of having to go through and pay for it later. They should do some type of programming class.”

“When we do the contests, [I appreciate] watching the kids compete and try to put-or pull knowledge to win. They want to win, so they put it upon themselves, to make themselves better. Watching them learn to love code. So it’s motivating girls to look at it as a career. We have made a group at West, telling them that they can do it. We have a computer club and contests that are just for girls. In the advanced teams, if they win, they get a paid internship, so three of our girls who won first this year get a paid internship for all summer, which is a good starting point. Anybody female that wants to compete, they get to compete.

“We do have a computer club that we do the other competitions with, and I try to encourage all to come. They don’t have to be in the class to be in the computer club. We want them to want to come and code. We take everybody. There are coding contests, we have a lot of them. They get a team of three and they try to solve a packet. As many of the problems as they can. The cybersecurity they go and try to protect a virtual machine, so there are those two types of contests that we do. We did several competitions this year virtually. We just finished a cyber quest where we had girls and boys. Juniors and seniors on a team and they won third in the state.”