Introducing New Skill Struck Advisor, Dr. Toni Riester-Wood

After being in the education space for more than 28 years, Dr. Toni Riester-Wood knew she wanted to get involved in Skill Struck’s mission to create opportunities for all students to learn computer science and equip them to have an impact on the world. 

Dr. Riester-Wood worked in admin-level roles throughout her career in education and understands what initiatives have the potential to change teachers’ and students’ lives. 

As Skill Struck’s new advisor, she will be facilitating Computer Science (CS) Education Think Tanks and CS Coalitions across the nation where educators will gather to discuss the challenges they face when implementing CS pathways, and collaborate on solutions to those challenges. 

| Reach out to Sam Sappenfield (sam@skillstruck.com) to see if a CS Coalition has been started in your region. 

“There tends to be good collaboration within school districts, but I believe when school districts collaborate with one another our entire community benefits,” Dr. Riester-Wood said. 

Fostering connections between schools and districts

Dr. Riester-Wood first heard about Skill Struck through a mutual connection between her and Parker Gentry, CEO and Founder of Skill Struck. 

Gentry learned that Dr. Riester-Wood’s had worked as a teacher, school psychologist, principal, and central office administrator, including associate and interim superintendent. This experience across both small rural and large urban districts gave her a unique perspective that others in education needed. 

“From the first time I met Toni, I could tell that she cares about improving education across the board. She genuinely cares about improving the lives of students and teachers,” Gentry said. 

Following several conversations, Gentry and Dr. Riester-Wood noticed that there was a lack of collaboration between districts and schools when it came to implementing computer science pathways into their classrooms. 

Together, they decided to pioneer the first Computer Science Education Think Tank and CS focused coalitions that span across the nation. 

Building a strong computer science pathway for students 

Dr. Riester-Wood joined the Skill Struck team as an advisor in March, 2021. She’s joining in order to facilitate these CS Education Think Tanks and CS Coalitions. 

“The workforce and our lives are rapidly changing as we become more connected, more efficient and more digital—which is a good thing,” Dr. Riester-Wood said.  

“Just about everyone has a powerful, personal, handheld computer. Life and learning has changed. If the future is digitalization, how are we adapting in our public schools? Growing a strong pipeline of confident, innovative, collaborative, and empathic students who are excited about computer science needs to begin in early elementary school. 

Finally, there are currently thousands of well-paying open computing jobs coupled with a significant lack of diversity in the field. These gaps are our opportunity! Learning today is different, faster. Want to collaborate about building a strong computer science pathway? Let's talk about it!”

The Skill Struck team is thrilled to have Dr. Toni Riester-Wood as an Advisor leading nationwide Computer Science (CS) Education Think Tanks and CS Coalitions and looks forward to the impact she and the rest of the team will have on making CS education more accessible and engaging for all. 


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