Diego Thompson is a motivated and growth-minded fifth-grade student who has always enjoyed the STEM+ and computer science programs at Ravenscroft. When the pandemic set in and the community shifted to remote learning, Diego put his passion into action.
A student at Ravenscroft since PreK, Diego has been immersed in Lead From Here, learning to Lead Self, Lead With Others and Change Our World through cultivating the competencies in our citizen leader framework. Truly Leading Self, Diego took the initiative to use his time at home last spring and summer as an opportunity to stretch his coding skills by learning Python — a coding language used widely by software companies and businesses around the world to develop mission-critical business applications.
His interest started in classes at Ravenscroft and grew as he looked to take additional courses outside of school in third and fourth grade. By then, Diego already knew Scratch, the programming language being taught to students his age, so he quickly moved into learning Python alongside Middle School students.
Diego comes from a family of tech entrepreneurs and has the support of his family in pursuing his interests. His father founded Tweens and Technology, a STEM-focused learning experience for children. Through Tweens and Technology, Diego really enhanced his skills. First participating in a summer camp and then in multiple additional courses, Diego has earned five different certifications in Python using Code Combat, which includes Levels 1 and 2 of Computer Science, Levels 1 and 2 of Game Development and Level 1 of Web Development.
“I like being able to write code that makes characters do what I want them to do,” Diego said. “My favorite program that I wrote was to have characters building fences.”
This year, Diego is a full-time virtual student, and he continues to further develop his skills, using much of his free time, flex time and every Saturday morning to code and work toward his Level 2 certification in Web Development.
“Learning to program in Python has made me proud and confident. I think it’s made me better in math this year,” he said. “My mom says [coding] uses the same part of my brain. I think she is right, because I have gotten an ‘A’ in math on both of my report cards so far this year.”
Crystal Keefe, who has taught Diego math in fourth grade and fifth grade and is now his homeroom teacher as well, has gotten to know Diego well. She’s not at all surprised by his accomplishments in computer programming.
“Diego is one of the most self-aware students I have ever taught,” Keefe said. “Last year when we made the shift to virtual learning, I noticed early on that, if he ever has a question about anything or if he is unsure about a skill that is being taught, he takes it upon himself to reach out to ask for support or ask for time to meet.”
That drive was critical at a time when teachers were working hard to teach other young learners how to advocate for themselves while they were adjusting to the new virtual learning environment.
As a virtual learner, Diego works well independently and epitomizes many of our Lead From Here competencies. He is self-aware, growth-minded, and accountable — which says a lot given how many additional coding projects he is working on.
“Diego is so engaged!” Keefe added. “He’s not shy and doesn’t sit in the background; he is always raising his hand and participating in our lessons.”
Not only is Diego keenly interested in coding, but he is also Changing Our World by serving as a student ambassador for Tweens and Technology. He will share his experiences as an approach for dealing with stress and anxiety in an upcoming Fireside Chat on Friday, March 19.
When asked what he hopes to do with his coding career, Diego responded, “Since I love sports, I also play golf and basketball on the weekends with my dad when the weather isn’t too cold. When I grow up, I am going to do something with coding and sports. Maybe I’ll design a sports app or game. That’s a cool idea I might do.”