Ms. G, as the students at La Cañada High School know her, is now known statewide as a member of the Computer Science Strategic Implementation Advisory Panel.
Gayle Nicholls-Ali, whose duties at LCHS include career tech education, was appointed recently by Gov. Jerry Brown to join 14 like-minded experts on a panel charged with making recommendations on the implementation of K-12 computer science standards in California.
“The California economy is depending on us,” said Nicholls-Ali, who also is a curriculum writer and team leader at CTE Online, an online learning program that offers pathways and courses focused on career and technical education, in addition to working as an adjunct professor at Pacific Oaks College.
“Here are the standards, let’s start writing proposals and plans for the future looking at more than two years out, four years out, 10 years out … what kind of impact are we going to be having on kids 20 years from now,” she said. “How are we going to shape California’s future, economically, socially, politically with computer science. It’s a big, big job.”
The panel — which was created by Assembly Bill 99 — met for the first time on Feb. 28 and March 1, when members started work on a plan intended to ensure future teacher preparedness, availability of sufficient resources and fair implementation of the state’s new computer science standards.
The panel’s recommendations are due to be delivered to the state legislature and the California Department of Education and State Board of Education by Jan. 15, 2019. The Department of Education will then turn those recommendations into a specific implementation plan, on which the State Board of Education will vote by July 15, 2019, after which legislators will have their say.
Nicholls-Ali was nominated for a position on the panel last year and, after a series of interviews and background checks, nominated by Brown on Feb. 12.
“It feels pretty darn special,” she said.
Nicholls-Ali said that she was impressed and inspired by her fellow panelists.
“I told them, ‘OK, I just found all my people, my tribe is all right here,’” she said. “This is what I spend nights thinking about, and these people are vibing the same way I’m vibing.
“We all said, ‘Wow, this is probably the most diverse group that I’ve ever met that vibes on the same subject in the same way. We want kids to think about creating and about making something that’s never been done before.’
“It was very exciting to be in a room full of people who vibe that way.”