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Richardson Terrace Elementary

Terrace Elementary Students Learning How To Code

Chuc Do Photo

Chuc Do came to Texas after seeking refugee status in Canada upon fleeing Vietnam in 1982. 

In Canada, Do attended McMaster University in Ontario, earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. Then, he immigrated to the United States to work for a tech company. The company relocated often, and Do decided to stay in Texas because of the job opportunities here. He eventually ended up working as a senior IT specialist in the telecommunications industry for 30 years. 

Do received an opportunity to teach programming and cybersecurity at UTD in 2014, which helped him learn some teaching skills.  He retired from the IT industry and decided to embark on a second career in education. He realized that with the available computer lab, iPads, and MacBook Air computers in RISD elementary schools, he could teach young students Python coding and some basic cybertechnology.

“I strongly believe that if we introduce coding to kids at an early age, such as fifth or sixth grade, that will give them motivation to learn along the way,” Do says. “When these students get to junior high and high school, they will be able to choose whether they want to pursue computer science. Elementary students already use so much technology, but they don’t relly know how the iPad was made or how the computer works. I think teaching them coding gives them a better understanding of the technology.”

Do chose to apply to work in RISD because he lives close to Berkner high school. He initially got a job as a custodian at Richardson Heights Elementary, and retired after a year, but the principal asked him to come back and work as a technology assistant.

“Then, I got approval from the principal to start an after-school club to teach kids about coding and cybersecurity, primarily Python programming,” Do said. “There were about two dozen Heights students who attended the after-school class, and last year, a math teacher also participated in the club to learn coding.”

Do moved to Richardson Terrace to continue working as a technology assistant, and with the blessing of Principal Michele Zupa, has incorporated his coding lessons into the class.

“Chuc is always seeking ways to improve the school and build relationships with staff and students,” Zupa said “Despite being new to our campus this year, he has already distinguished himself as a leader and a problem solver. He could be retired or still working as an executive, but he’s here teaching. And he’s not just willing to do whatever is asked of him, he’s actively seeking ways to improve the school. Chuc has been such an asset to our campus.”

He has now been teaching coding in RISD for about three years now, and while some of his former students are moving on to junior high and high school, they have asked Do to further tutor them on programming. 

“It’s very important to me that students learn coding and programming at an early age, it teaches them critical thinking and gives them problem-solving skills. It helps them think outside the box, and beyond the basic, daily use of the technology that they use in the classroom. Today, an in-depth knowledge of how computers and software function and how code is written gives students employment opportunities in almost every industry.”

(This feature was written by Richardson senior Lily Nicholson, who is a member of the RISD Professional Internship Program that allows students to gain experience in a field or industry of their choice prior ro taking college classes. Lily is interning with RISD Strategy & Engagement this semester.)

teacher hading out forms to students