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Educator Spotlight, Joy Schwartz

May 1, 2023 — 3 minutes

The Computer Science Teachers, Teacher!

If you are in the education space, you already know that computer science students have a bright and abundant professional future ahead of them. With a 15% projected growth in Computer Science and IT jobs over the next decade – the real challenge has become scaling up Computer Science Education in schools countrywide. This includes the Professional Development of educators, some of whom are playing catch-up to learn the necessary CS skills to lead a class of tech-curious students. Thankfully, seasoned Computer Science educators like Joy Schwartz have taken the lead to help teachers and administrators expand their knowledge and skills in the Computer Science & STEM Education space. Joy is a Computer Science Education Specialist at the University of Texas at Austin’s TACC, or Texas Advanced Computing Center where she works under EPIC, or the Expanding Pathways in Computing branch. She is also a Facilitator of Computer Science and Robotics programs at All of this to say, Joy gets to marry her experience as a former Computer Science teacher with her love for sharing technology every day for students and teachers alike!

Joy knew from working with young students that physical computing devices always help to complement a computer science class, “I love Computers and programming but students also need engaging activities.” Joy had come across a primitive drone in the classroom many years ago but something about the usability didn’t stick. Then one day at a STEM event she came upon the Tello paired with DroneBlocks and thought “I’ve gotta look this up!” Shortly after testing DroneBlocks out in the classroom, a student pointed out “Mrs. Schwartz! This thing has Python!” and the journey began. “I just loved the ease, the block coding – most Computer Science teachers are familiar with block coding so it’s an easy learning curve, but I also really appreciate the JavaScript and Python options.” 

Joy went full speed ahead with DroneBlocks and brought a fleet of Tello’s to a NASA conference of 600 teachers. Using the free resources portion of the curriculum, she put on a whole seminar… that ended with a few too many Drones trying to share the airspace. “I’ve gotten better at managing the take-offs and landings since that workshop!” Now Joy is a seasoned DroneBlocks pro, you can catch her flying the Drones in school cafeterias to attract kids to join Computer Science courses or even delivering classroom lessons dressed in a full flight suit and goggles. “Here in Texas, the industry is in need of licensed Drone Pilots with the oil refineries and other infrastructure. Students realize ‘Oh I can be employed for this?’ So they gain both coding and piloting skills.

Next, Joy is excited to spread the capabilities of Python paired with DroneBlocks as well. “Python is hot right now, I’m very excited about the Intro to Python Course. It could be great for teachers new to computer science or experienced teachers that are new to the language.”

DroneBlocks has been happy to donate a few Drones to Joy’s mission as she travels from grade to grade around Texas and even to Guam! At a recent training with the Houston Chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association, one of the teachers in attendance who had never coded before, won a free Tello Drone from DroneBlocks. “She was so excited. I updated the firmware for her and told her she could take all of the things we did today and get your kids started on coding.” In one classroom Joy visited, an Elementary teacher was amazed as the kids mastered terms like Pitch and Yaw and flew their drone in a square using 90-degree angles. “One of the teachers said to me – I now see how to use a drone as a tool in the classroom. Before this, I always thought of it as a toy.”

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