Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Ana Vo, Middle School Science Teacher

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week 2021, we are excited to feature an MDCPS Middle School Teacher who is doing an amazing job exposing her students to coding by blending her passions for art and tech. Ms. Vo has participated in both of Code/Art’s professional development workshops to equip herself to implement creative coding into her classroom and is also working with her school’s administration to launch a new “Art Through Creative Coding” course at her school!

Check out our interview with Ms. Vo to learn more about her work and what drives her. We thank Ms. Vo and all our teachers for the incredible, life-changing work they do each and every single day!

Could you share a bit about your teaching background as well as some of your personal interests and passions?

My name is Ana Vo and I have been teaching for 15 years. Before teaching, I worked as a medical laboratory technologist for 15 years, so I naturally began teaching middle school science. About five years ago, my AP asked if I would teach an intro to coding elective. I had taken a computer programming class when I was in junior high back in 1982 and remembered how much I had enjoyed it, so I agreed to teach the class.

I started making hand-cut collages about three years ago as a creative and emotional outlet. After learning some Photoshop through a workshop at MDCPS I started making digital collages. I have posted over 600 of them on my Instagram account. I also enjoy music, and before the pandemic, I attended over 300 rock concerts with my son and daughter. I discovered that many musicians were also talented visual artists, and their live shows were a wonderful mix of music, technology, and art.

Hand-cut collages made by Ana Vo (via Instagram @spiderocto)

What first interested you to participate in Code/Art’s Professional Development workshop?

I have always enjoyed art and going to museums with my family, so the idea of teaching coding through art seemed like a lot of fun for me and for my students. I also wanted some more curriculum for my coding elective.

Ms. Vo participating in Code/Art’s CC-101 PD Workshop (Intro to Creative Coding)

What were your biggest takeaways from participating in the PDs and how has it been implementing the Code/Art curriculum in the classroom with your students?

I knew that women had slowly been pushed out of computer science starting in the 1980s and that tech culture is not welcoming to women, so I really admire Code/Art’s commitment to empowering girls and young women to explore careers in computer science. I think their approach to teaching coding through art is a great way for students not only to learn to code but to express themselves creatively.

My students have really enjoyed coding using Scratch and learning JavaScript to make self-portraits. These projects were a starting point and many of them had time to expand on their ideas and learn more on their own.

Coded Self-Portrait made by one of Ms. Vo’s middle school students

What are your future plans after attending the latest Code/Art PD?

My principal and AP have already included a course named “Art Through Creative Coding” for next year based on the new Code/Art curriculum. I am very excited to introduce more middle school girls to coding!

Video made by Ms. Vo to promote new “Art Through Creative Coding” course at her school

Name a woman in history (past or present) who inspires you the most and why?

I admire women that promote equity through media, such as Ava Duvernay and Oprah Winfrey. Media is a form of education for the masses and is one of the most influential vehicles we have to promote understanding and empathy.

Ava Duvernay (left) and Oprah Winfrey (right)

Non-profit on a mission to increase the number of girls studying Computer Science by inspiring them with the creative possibilities in programming!