The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

Meinzen Retires, Leaves Bar High for New Comp-Sci Teacher

AP Newsroom
A programming classroom in Jefferson Recreation Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For years, freshmen and seniors alike have been typing away, correcting code and building programs in computer science classes. But come next August, these students will face a notable change to their programming and coding classes.

According to senior Chase Chrenka, teacher John Meinzen has taught many computer science courses for years, along with a few math classes.

“[He’s] been in the industry for a long time and understands computer science unlike anyone I’ve ever met,” Chrenka said. “In every lesson, it is apparent that he knows what he is doing and truly cares that we learn.”

A good number of students at EHS are interested in computer science as a career, Chrenka said, and most have been preparing for college through some of Mr. Meinzen’s computer classes.

“I planned on going into [computer science] partially because I enjoy the problem-solving and logic involved,” junior Xavier Wilson said. “That’s always been my strong suit as opposed to creative arts.”

Wilson also mentioned the field’s high demand and lucrativeness.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science and related computer operative studies are becoming some of the fastest-growing careers in the world, with a projected 11% growth from 2019 to 2029.

With Mr. Meinzen’s plan to retire in May, the school will lose its only teacher qualified to teach many of the computer-based classes EHS offers, creating a fear among students that the classes wouldn’t be offered at all. 

“I was planning on taking AP Comp Sci [next year], and without it, I wouldn’t get much experience taking classes related to my future major,” Wilson said. 

According to Principal Steve Stuart, the district is looking at filling Mr. Meinzen’s position as soon as possible, but with such meticulous qualifications, the hiring process may take longer than expected.

“We are actively seeking teachers who have the certification you need to teach those upper-level computer classes,” Principal Steve Stuart said. “Hopefully, I have some people internally who are [nearly qualified] and can take a class or two to be certified, and if not, then we will look outside the district for replacement.”

Though classes like Programming Fundamentals may just require certain experience, two of the computer classes offered at EHS, AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A, can complicate the list of criteria an applicant would need to meet. 

Because they are AP classes, AP CSP and AP CSA must provide coursework adhering to relatively strict guidelines set by the College Board. Along with this, AP teachers might need a more sophisticated skillset.

Though the College Board does not specifically list any hard requirements for prospective AP teachers, it is highly recommended that they hold a bachelor’s degree in the subject (or a related field) they’re planning to teach. Many states require this to improve the quality of the AP course or up the exam scores in May. 

With or without a degree in the field, AP teachers will typically go through a series of College-Board-sponsored workshops to better understand the style of an AP class.

Even with the position filled, many of Mr. Meinzen’s students fear the classes will not be the same.

“Mr. Meinzen has been doing this stuff for so long and you can tell he has experience,” Wilson said. “He doesn’t just teach you programming but how to code professionally and document your work which will help secure a good job in the future.”

Chrenka agreed and said Mr. Meinzen’s unique style of instruction will be hard to match, placing emphasis on his “tough love” method of preparing his students for the real world. 

Despite Mr. Meinzen’s upcoming retirement, Chrenka said she would recommend skill-building computer classes to anyone at EHS, whether they’re looking into computer science as a career or just for fun. 

“It’s a huge growing industry, and experience in computer science will help students tremendously with any job,” Chrenka said. “It’s a good skill to have, especially when technology is so important in today’s time.”

Until May, Mr. Meinzen will continue to teach through his last semester at EHS. Despite the situation, he pointed out a new perspective – one that, through the transition from himself to another teacher, some of his students might benefit from hearing. 

“Education isn’t about the teacher,” Mr. Meinzen said. “It’s about the students learning for the rest of their lives.”