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SHHS Senior and Technology Department Chair Receive Prestigious Awards from the National Center for Women & Information Technology

Computer science is one of the fastest-growing career fields in the U.S. today, yet classes in this subject remain a rarity in many K-12 curriculums. The Public Schools of the Tarrytowns have prioritized the opportunity for students to participate in computer classes, and, currently, the high school offers up to five different courses. 

One of the faculty members who led the effort to advance computer science offerings is SHHS Department Chair of Technology Dan Larkin. So it is with great pride that we share that Mr. Larkin has received the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing Educator Award. The award recognizes educators for their efforts to promote gender equity in computing and their ongoing commitment to encouraging the computing interests of their women, genderqueer or non-binary students. 

Alongside Mr. Larkin, SHHS senior Paula Ticona Pera was also recognized by the NCWIT with the Hudson Valley Affiliate Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC) - Honorable Mention. Paula, who is currently enrolled in AP Computer Science A, says Mr. Larkin informed her about this award and that he encouraged her to apply. She submitted an essay and chose to write about the critical importance of cybersecurity, particularly as it relates to protecting minors from sex trafficking on the dark web.

Paula plans to pursue computer science in college and is particularly interested in cybersecurity. She believes that more women and underrepresented communities should be involved in the sciences because “diversity is critical and it creates a better environment for everyone.”

“This area of cyber security is important to me and this award helps show others that I’m doing this for a good reason,” said Paula. “It also shows other females, especially first generation Americans like me, that it’s OK to put yourself out there and take a risk.”

Mr. Larkin has done a great deal to inform young women and individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ about the different classes available and the wide range of topics they cover. Beyond coding, they research and discuss complex issues such as privacy, data mining and personalization, and the impact that computers and technology are having on society. 

“It’s truly an honor to receive this particular award because I believe that inclusion changes what’s possible and that if we don’t encourage and support all types of people to explore computer science, we will lose out on their ideas and creativity,” said Mr. Larkin. 

As an Award recipient, Larkin will receive access to the 2022 AiC Educator Award Professional Development Fund and will be able to acquire professional development funding towards improving computing education skills. As an extra perk, he will be sent a personalized trophy as well as a $250 gift card to use as he wishes. 

“SHHS is extremely proud of Paula for her fearlessness and drive to pursue a field where women are underrepresented,” said SHHS Principal, Ms. Debbie Brand. “We are also very fortunate to have a teacher like Dan Larkin, who constantly contributes to developing students’ interest in computer science and is always looking for ways to expand STEM opportunities at the high school.” 

The National Center for Women & Information Technology describes itself as a “non-profit community that convenes, equips, and unites change leader organizations to increase the meaningful participation of all women — at the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, age, sexual orientation, and disability status — in the influential field of computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development.”