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Kara Christensen is an instructor at Juni Learning. She is currently pursuing her B.S. in Applied Mathematics at UCLA, where she is a Regents Scholar.
When did you know you wanted to work in Computer Science?
I grew up in a pretty small town, so we didn’t have any Computer Science programs at all. When I started college, I started meeting people who had taken coding classes in high school. I was able to take a computer science course because I’m an Applied Math major, and I just fell in love with it. It fits exactly into my skill set. I love problem solving and I’m a pretty creative person, so it’s a natural intersection.
Why do you spend your time teaching with Juni?
I’ve taught a lot of kids in the past because I was a gymnastics coach for five years. With Juni, the kids don’t run away from you. :) I love seeing that “a-ha” moment when they understand a concept you’re explaining and are able to put their own spin on it. They are so good at trying new things and not worrying about all the things we worry about as we get older.
What do you think is most unique about Juni?
Customizability and access. For one, we’re able to give kids the opportunity to learn this super versatile skill, regardless of where they live.
Also, we can teach kids in the style they learn best. A lot of kids grow up thinking they aren’t good at math or science just because it’s not taught in a way that they naturally understand. I’ve been lucky that the way math is taught is the way that my brain gets it. But there’s always fifty thousand ways to teach anything. That’s the nice thing about Juni — we can teach kids from anywhere in the style they need to have it resonate with them.
What are some of your teaching principles or strategies?
I try to make it as student-driven as possible. I really like it when my students express interest in a topic that we can explore on the side. I try to encourage that creativity and problem solving as much as I can, because that’s what’s going to make an impact on everything they do in the future.
Any advice for students or parents who are interested in Juni?
Try it out for the lifelong experience. Coding is a very helpful skill in almost any field — it teaches you logical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. If you view it as an opportunity to practice those skills while working on something that is extremely versatile and helpful in any future path, I think it’s a no-brainer to take advantage of that.
What do you do outside of teaching with Juni?
I’m on the UCLA Club Gymnastics Team. I competed in gymnastics for ten years, and then I taught for three years. I also really enjoy cooking, hiking, and traveling!