Photo by Suzanne Weiss
By Suzanne Weiss/Director of Public Relations
MANITOWOC, Wis. — Sherry Verdon knew she made the right choice in selecting the field of computer science when she got up close and personal with the inner workings of an IT system.
That realization came a number of years ago, while she worked as technology coordinator and technology teacher for the Fond du Lac Area Catholic Education System. She found herself in her element as she ran the school district’s networks, server, hardware, infrastructure and more.
“It was so hands-on, it led me further down the technology path,” said Verdon, assistant professor of computer science at Silver Lake College, where she teaches upper-level computer science, information systems technology support and web publishing courses.
She engages her students by using teaching methods that include project-based assignments, lab work, class collaboration, hands-on exercises, and presentations.
Verdon received her Master of Education degree in educational technology and her Bachelor of Science in education with a minor in computer science from Marian University in Fond du Lac.
She joined Silver Lake College in fall and also teaches as an adjunct professor at Marian. Verdon is in process of earning a Ph.D. in IT/computer science through Walden University in Arizona.
“I always knew as a kid that I wanted to become a teacher. When I got into education, I chose computer science as my minor. I had a passion for teaching and technology,” she said.
Verdon hopes that her enthusiasm and knowledge will rub off on her students because they are going to be using technology in one way or another, whatever field they pursue, Verdon said.
“I enjoy being able to make an impact on students and seeing them open up and evolve. I love that ‘aha’ moment, when they realize they are capable of overcoming obstacles in technology,” she said.
Students need to have patience, pay attention to detail and develop problem-solving skills if they plan to pursue work in the computer sciences, which in many cases involves the painstaking process of writing exacting code, Verdon said.
That patience can eventually pay off with a rewarding career in technology, a fast-growing field, she said.
There will always be jobs for tech coordinators, web developers and designers, and computer programmers, to name a few,” Verdon said.
She even reaches out to pre-college students to help close what she sees as a technology gap.
“High school students often use handheld electronics like the Chromebook, iPad or iPhone, but they may not be familiar with basic business software applications,” said Verdon, who helps familiarize them with everything from taking screenshots to database management, desktop publishing software, keyboard shortcuts and programs like Excel, Word, PowerPoint or Photoshop.
“My goal is to go into high schools and share that awareness and help students build that skill set, to be an integral part of helping them be prepared for college,” Verdon said.
At Silver Lake College, Verdon lets her students know that she cares about them and their futures. She prides herself in being approachable, being able to relate to students, and in creating a safe and engaging learning environment, where they feel comfortable and aren’t afraid to ask questions or participate in class.
“That’s a huge asset we offer here because we are a small college community and I think some students come here for that reason,” she said. “They benefit from that type of learning environment.”
PHOTO: Sherry Verdon, assistant professor of computer science, standing, is shown with one of her students, Danielle Byrun, a junior majoring in biology and minoring in information science tehcnology.