UCS teacher named top Advanced Placement educator for the midwest
UCS teacher named top Advanced Placement educator for the midwest
Posted on 02/09/2018
Mr. Straughten surrounded by seven AP computer science students

A Utica Community Schools computer science teacher has been named the top Advanced Placement teacher in the Midwest.

Richard Straughen, of Eisenhower High School, has been named the 2018 AP Teacher of the Year for the College Board’s Midwestern Region.

“Mr. Straughen challenges all of his students with a focus on providing them the tools they need to be successful in college and careers,” superintendent Dr. Christine Johns said. “He is also an advocate for the critical importance of expanding computer science opportunities for all students. Our region is a leader in automation and engineering, and I applaud his work to give his students a competitive advantage for these high paying jobs.”

Straughen, who is in his 14th year of teaching, will be honored by the College Board on February 19 at its Midwestern Regional Forum. 

“I am happy to receive the award, but it is a greater recognition of the work at our school and district,” Straughen said. “It is the culture that we have developed here.”

The award recognizes Straughen in several key areas:

  • His commitment to create more opportunities for students to take part in advanced placement. Straughen piloted a new Advanced Placement Computer Science program last year in UCS that has now been expanded to all four district high schools
  • His work to increase equity and access in his computer science programs. He remains committed to growing female representation in his program, increasing enrollment of girls from ten to 25 percent. He has also initiated a Girls Who Code club at Eisenhower.
  • His dedication to grow professionally. Straughen has taken part in summer institutes for Advanced Placement computer science, online learning communities and workshops presented through the national Code.org.
  • His work to share his experiences with colleagues. He has established district course goals to improve achievement districtwide and mentors first year computer science teachers across UCS.

Advanced Placement courses provide students with college-level curriculum and provides them an opportunity to take a national exam that may result in college credit. UCS offers 31 different AP courses for secondary students.

“Advanced Placement programs gives students a sense of the expectations of what they will face in college,” Straughen said.

He said the increased focus on computer science program reflects the rapid changes facing graduates.

“Computers are everywhere and they are not going away,” he said. “In every job today you need to use technology.”

Straughen earned his computer science degree at Albion College and his teacher degree at Saginaw Valley University.