by Bryan Hartman
On August 18, 2020 CSTA Central Illinois officially became a CSTA chapter. We're 15 members strong and looking to grow.
Here's my version of how this started.
For those of use who graduated in the year 2000 plus or minus a decade, computer class typically meant one of two things - typing or Microsoft Office. We were being programmed to be efficient, little business people. I was fortunate enough to attend a school who had a Technology Director that could teach a Computer Science class. Looking back, I'm not even sure he had a teaching license, but I loved that class. My friends and I were mesmerized the first time we had QBasic print "Hello World!" Yes, that phrase is now a trope, but I remember it fondly.
Like many students today, I tried CS in college, but was simply not prepared for the academic rigor. I took my CS skills to the business department and graduated with a degree in Economics. After a year of work, I went back to school to teach. I wanted to teach Economics and Computer Science, but my advisor told me there were not jobs in Illinois teaching those things. I was grateful for that advice. I earned an endorsement in Math and taught 8th grade math for 8 years. At my second position I turned an extra study hall into a part time Computer Science class and I still run into students who remember that class and nothing else they learned from me. I started teaching math at Monticello Middle School in the fall of 2015. A few years after I started at Monticello, the Business/Typing teacher retired. I asked to take over the Computers class under the agreement that I could turn the class into a full Computer Science class. 
A few months into teaching Computer Science I thought, I'm the only middle school computer science teacher within 100 miles, and if I'm not, I don't know who else is teaching Computer Science. Math, English, Social Studies, Science, Art, Music, and other subjects have access to an abundance of continuing education, conferences, and colleagues to improve their classroom content and pedagogy. Computer Science teachers have almost nothing - If I wanted to renew my teaching license, the best way to earn continuing education was to attend a math or general technology conference. I love math conferences, but I want to network and learn from other Computer Science teachers.
I needed a way to find other CS teachers and continuing education opportunities, which is is how I discovered CSTA. A few dozen emails later, it's now August 2020 and we're off!