Ms. Charlotte Dungan
AI Program Architect
Ms. Charlotte Dungan comes to the North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM) from the Dimensions Family School where she served as the founder and executive director. Ms. Dungan has a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts for Educators from Antioch University and a Masters of Education(Ed.M.) in Learning and Teaching from Harvard University. As an instructor of computer science, Charlotte is instrumental in developing IVC courses that help introduce high school students across the state to coding.
We sat down with Ms. Dungan to talk with her about her unique educational journey, her love for computers, and her passion for relevant, values-based education.
How did Ms. Dungan first become interested in Computer Science?
Ms. Dungan took her first computer science course in 7th grade and learned programming on a Radio Shack computer, the TRS80, that she still remembers to this day. She also remembers writing a paper about computers for her high school physics course.
Where did Ms. Dungan attend undergraduate/graduate school and how did she decide what to major in and focus on?
As a high school student in Michigan, Ms. Dungan was awarded a scholarship to Miami University in Florida, but decided not to attended because the logistics of moving across the country were overwhelming given her available resources and background. She then received a full ride to a community college in Lansing, Michigan; amidst a series of family issues including the passing of her father and her mother's health issues , Ms. Dungan oscillated between attending community colleges and working. Despite these challenges, she continued to work on and near computers at any chance she got including working in computer labs, working with databases, and as an entry level programmer. Ms. Dungan persevered and received a bachelors of arts from Antioch University in Ohio in Liberal Arts for Educators. She then pursued her passion for education, but never lost her love for computers and coding. In 2015, Ms. Dungan accepted the greater challenge, and packed up her four kids and moved to Boston, MA to attend Harvard University. While at Harvard she continued to focus on research in CS education as well as researching about what values teachers have and how they implement them. Her dream of opening a school that would allow her kids to have different educational experience than she did was a major driving force for her graduate education and became a reality after she graduated from Harvard and founded the Dimensions Family School. Now at NCSSM, Charlotte works to develop innovative computer science courses for IVC such as "Connected Computing: Solving Global Challenges with Code"and works with the Statewide 100Kin10 challenge to bring in 100000 new STEM teachers, particularly in rural areas (see video below).
What did Ms. Dungan do before coming to NCSSM?
Ms. Dungan was a computer programmer for ten years, primarily working with data, reporting, payment systems, and web development before jumping into education, so becoming Instructor of Computer Science here at NCSSM marries two of her passions into one role! She has taught in a wide variety of contexts, including alternative schools, twice exceptional programs, creating and running a Tinkering Camp in Apex, NC, working for the Museum of Life and Science, and running an educational consulting company with STEM classes as a primary focus. She has also conducted research with computer science educators at Scratch Education. In her free time she volunteers with Kidzu Children's Museum on their inspirational "Dream Team." She believes in empowering students as makers and creators.
Why did Ms. Dungan decide to work at a High School?
Ms. Dungan specifically chose to work at NCSSM because of it's special ability to help students stay wide and to cater to students who want a greater challenge. The Distance Education is especially near to her heart because it changes student's lives.
What is Ms. Dungan's favorite thing about NCSSM?
Ms. Dungan's favorite things about NCSSM are getting to know students across the state and ...Wait for it... Her Office! Ms. Dungan's office has an awesome view and it is a space where she can let her creative juices run wild (see pics below).
What does Ms. Dungan like to do outside of NCSSM?
Ms. Dungan likes mountain biking and rocking climbing. She has also spent time serving as a Girl Scout Leader (some of her scouts were able to visit our BME and Robotics labs) and as a Big Sister.
If Ms. Dungan could give NCSSM students one piece of advice, what would it be?
Ms. Dungan actively practices instilling values system in her own children and has spent a lot of time learning and researching about what values teachers have and how they implement them. Her personal value system is focused on "What is best for the students?" Her words of advice for students are: "Spend time figuring out your values and when you are making a decision big or small, align your decision with those values."