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Nipmuc High teacher wins award for computer science class

Ron Cochran had taught advanced placement calculus for 11 years at Nipmuc Regional High School in Upton when he was also assigned the school’s inaugural AP computer science course for the 2013-14 school year.

To prepare that summer, he networked with other computer science teachers at a training program provided by Mass Insight Education, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving college readiness. In fact, Cochran credits the organization’s ongoing support with his class’s success last year in exceeding the national average on the AP exam.

The Littleton resident is one of 54 winners of the fourth annual Mass Insight Education Partners in Excellence Awards for increasing AP class access during the 2014-15 academic year to prepare students for a successful transition to college.


“It’s always nice to be recognized for what we do,” said Cochran, who also won the award for his AP calculus class three years ago.

Other local recipients selected from more than 600 AP teachers in Mass Insight Education’s English and STEM program include Fitchburg High School English teacher Julie Alexander of Natick; Malden High School calculus teacher Genoveva Mateeva of Acton; and Worcester-based South High Community School teachers Mary Sebring of Shrewsbury, who teaches English, and Tara Vaidya of Westborough, who teaches physics.

All award recipients will be honored with a $1,000 prize on Tuesday, April 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the Seaport Hotel in Boston. Eric Waldo, the executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, will be the keynote speaker.

Cochran, who has worked at Nipmuc for 18 years, said his computer science students are naturally driven because they elect to take the class. The demographic, he noted, is also predominantly male — for now.

“I don’t know if girls don’t identify with being good at it, but I’m working to convince them otherwise,” said Cochran, noting that seven girls have registered next fall, whereas his current class of 18 only has two. “I want to see all my students be prepared when they get to college so they’ll keep going [with these courses] and be successful.”


For more information, visit massinsight.org.

Cindy Cantrell

Cindy Cantrell can be reached at cindycantrell20@gmail.com.