Jon Samuelson

Jon Samuelson
Innovation Strategist 
Beaverton School District
Portland, Oregon, US

The educator on a mission to blaze a coding trail across Beaverton School District

Jon Samuelson is the Innovation Strategist at Beaverton School District in Oregon. He has been in the education industry since 1993 and an active technology integrator in the Oregon school district for the past four years.

Jon’s passion for technology means his day is nonstop. In his role as an Innovation Strategist, he explains that he visits schools to get teachers started with technology and meets them before, during, after school and other PD sessions.

Jon’s main goal is to make teachers feel at ease around technology. “I ask them about their vision, because a lot of people don’t understand how to use technology and they’re scared of it. I go in and teach in front with students so they can see that it’s really not that hard. They need to be willing to make mistakes and acknowledge that things won’t work all the time. The most important thing is a willingness to learn with the students.”

Jon believes that there isn’t enough focus on teaching STEM and coding in the US and teachers don’t have access to the necessary training. He also admits that while all schools have computer labs, the classes are usually taught by teachers who aren’t as comfortable and adventurous around technology as an actual computing teacher. As a result, this creates considerable inequities within the district. Students who attend a school where there is a specially trained computer lab teacher are ahead of everyone by the time they go to middle school, whereas those who have an untrained teacher often fall behind.

“We want it to be a level playing field for all students, so we’re trying to get people to understand that it’s important to have computer science as a standard in this district. We are trying hard to standardize the computer science curriculum.”

Jon laughs and adds: “And this is what I do in my spare time!”

The students of Beaverton School District are natural technology enthusiasts. He reveals that although there are always students who aren’t that interested in coding and technology, most kids get excited once they discover and use technology in the classroom. More and more, he sees students becoming the teacher. Jon confessed to a recent occasion when he wasn’t sure how something was supposed to be working and a student came up to him and said: “This is how it’s done!”.

One of the main reasons SAM Labs appeals is the physical element of the kits. Jon says that being able to code and control the physical world really appeals to him and his students.

Jon’s big plan for the future is to bring coding and creating to all students in the Beaverton School District and make sure everyone receives the computer science knowledge they deserve. Jon is on a mission to show people that SAM Labs isn’t just for extracurricular classes. He aims to prove that the kits are a great way to teach computer science and will continue on this journey, Classroom Kit in one hand and the Alpha Kit in the other. Good luck!