Q&A with Mary Miller, 2021 Teacher Extern

Preparing high schools for careers in the ever-changing IT field

Mary Miller is an AP Computer Science teacher at Worcester Tech High School in Worcester County and teaches about 100 students each year. As part of her curriculum, she aims to deliver the most current industry information and standards to her students, which can be a challenge in the ever-evolving tech industry. This summer, Mary had the opportunity to be part of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher Externship Program, where she worked at Cards Technology for four weeks learning about what they do and career tracks that can land students in the IT field.

“I really want Mary to see the broad range of skills needed to work in this field, so that when she goes back to school in the fall, she can set her students up for success,” said Sam Card, Founder & CEO of Cards Technology. “I take a lot of pride in our community and really believe in partnering with programs and businesses that are dedicated to helping develop the next technology leaders.”

Sam Card, Founder & CEO of Cards Technology, with Mary Miller outside the Ocean Pines office of Cards Technology.

After her last day on the job, we asked Mary a few questions about her experience. Here is what she shared:

Maryland Chamber Foundation (MDCF): Why are opportunities such as this important to your students?

Mary Miller (MM): Teaching Computer Science is an ever-changing field and therefore the curriculum must also be ever-changing to keep up. The Information Technology field, which is a branch of the Computer Science curriculum, is the most hands on for students. The IT field changes so much that keeping up with the hardware component can be a challenge for teachers. This opportunity allows me to partner with a company that can provide hardware that students will work on. Also, this opportunity will help me to make sure that the curriculum is current and will continue to remain current.

 

MDCF: What was your focus during your externship?

MM: My main goal is to create a curriculum that will prepare students to work in the IT local field after High School graduation. The externship has allowed me to understand the intro level requirement to become an employee in the IT field. The focus I had for this externship was to bridge the gap from high school curriculum to a position in an IT Management company such as Cards Technology.

MDCF: Was there one activity you did that stood out as the most insightful into the industry and career paths?

MM: The first week I had an opportunity to work with Sam Card and Dan Baer on their company’s planning stages for a client. The current online environment is extremely vulnerable, and I have wondered what it would take to keep clients safe online. I found that the set up that can be implemented for clients can keep their data safe and protected even with the cybercrime that is rampant currently. This was the most insightful because without a committed plan for implementing safety on both the client and IT Management side, data cannot be secure. Cards Technology is committed to keeping their client’s data safe and during the first week’s activities they did a great job of explaining how they incorporate cyber security in every system they implement for their clients.

MDCF: Tell us about a lesson you have learned that you want to take back to your classroom.

Mary Miller and Sam Card in the conference room at Cards Technology.

MM: One lesson that I will be implementing in the classroom this upcoming school year is creating a network with cyber security as a focus. Students will start off by taking apart a desktop computer, identifying the parts, and putting the computer back together to make sure it will turn on and work correctly. Then the students will take the computer and with CAT5 cables they will connect the computers to a switch and a router. Students will then add a firewall and set up a network to maintain secure transactions and storage of data. Students will learn through hands on experimenting what configurations will work to keep data safe and what will not work and needs to be redesigned. This is such a great opportunity because for schools to maintain up to date hardware stack can be very costly. But with this partnership students will be able to stay current.

MDCF: Why is this experience important for host companies?

MM: I believe that for subjects and programs that have real world applications this experience is a great tool to ensure that students are prepared for their future. I find that this experience has provided a chance to build a bridge between the school curriculum and current Industry practices. Information Technology has changed so much in the last year and will continue to change in the near future. This experience has allowed me see first-hand
the skills that are needed for intro level jobs in this field and now I can build curriculum to provide that next step.

This opportunity will bridge the gap to ensure more qualified workers for companies in the future. Specifically, in the IT field, I had the chance to hear from the company what new hires are lacking and discussed how we could prepare high school students for the IT field. I believe this was very encouraging for Cards Technology since they currently spend time training new hires with basic knowledge. I also believe this will help students to be more confident in their future field.


Learn more about Maryland Chamber Teacher Externship Program here, and meet all of our incredible 2021 Teacher Externs.

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