INSTRUCTOR SPOTLIGHT: MARCH 2022

INSTRUCTOR SPOTLIGHT: FEBRUARY 2022

March 2022 Instructor Excellence Award: Amy Starzynski Coddens

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Amy Coddens
CMMC CCP Instructor
and Strategic Partnerships Manager
(REN-ISAC)

Amy Coddens is a CMMC CCP instructor who currently serves as the Strategic Partnerships Manager for the Research and Education Networks Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REN-ISAC). “I’m kind of a Swiss Army knife of education/outreach skills & knowledge with a dash of cybersecurity thrown in.” Amy came to the REN-ISAC from Indiana University's Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, where she served as the Education, Outreach, and Training Manager, but she has a background in P-16 education, research, and outreach. Having experience working with the government and in academia, Amy has contributed to projects with the CMMC-Accreditation Body, National Science Foundation, NASA Education, the New England Research Institute, Harvard’s PEAR Institute, the United States Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, and the IU Kelley School of Business. 

Before focusing on CMMC CCP training, Amy taught everything from Behavior Management to children's yoga. According to Amy, she was originally drawn to CMMC because it was something new and kind of mysterious at the time. “I kept learning about it and truly became passionate about the model and how each part of the ecosystem fits and matters once I became more aware of the 'why' around its creation. No, I don't think it's perfect, but I do think it is needed. I also think the fact that POA&Ms are allowed in version 2.0 is a very good thing!”
 

Amy comes from a long line of educators, so she feels like she always wanted to be a teacher. Amy never strayed away from education and got her B.S. in Public Health Education but wasn’t always involved in direct instruction. “I am an extrovert and can talk to people all day long about nothing. I did love being in the classroom, but it wasn't really for me. Instructing adults, however, gives me the best of both worlds.” Although Amy enjoys every part of her job, a part that stands out to her is finding a way to easily explain difficult concepts so they are easily understood. “I used to teach special education a few lifetimes ago, and I have the view that approaching teaching and learning as something that is moving/breathing/living and CAN be changed to fit each student is a pretty good philosophy. It's all just like a giant puzzle - you just have to figure out where the pieces fit!”

This past year, Amy has been fortunate enough to serve with a group of other amazing women to stand up the Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) Business Information Security Officer (BISO) Affiliate. The BISO role is relatively new but is one that is projected to open up a career track for women in the field of cybersecurity. Looking to the future, Amy would absolutely love to move into more of a leadership role, but also truly loves the work that she does at the REN currently. “Every day is different, I get to work with amazing partners from all over the higher education and research landscape to better security awareness, and our team is fantastic. I also enjoy the work I have done with EDUCAUSE, WiCyS, and other organizations - my cup is pretty full!”

As a lifelong Hoosier, Amy is currently working toward a Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity Law and Policy through the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana with her husband, Zachary, who also works in cybersecurity at the OmniSOC (he's more technical and is a security engineer), and her two amazing children, Ellie and Emma.

March 2022 Instructor Excellence Award:
Mike Brown

Mike Brown is a Certified Technology Trainer at New Horizons Computer Learning Centers where he teaches technical certification courses including CompTIA, ITIL, and Microsoft System Engineering. Mike has taught an array of classes over his 20 years as an instructor to over 8,500 students. In addition, he has also written his own content and has dozens of courses on platforms like Udemy and Wyzant.

Mike has always been interested in computers. The first computer he ever clicked on was running Windows 3.11. He just naturally took to computers, he says, “It was like I was always meant to be in the computing field, and there came a time when I realized I was good at teaching other people to use their computers!” That day, a computer instructor was born in Mike, and he knew he had to find a job as an instructor and start teaching. “I know this is hard to believe. but I first heard of New Horizons Computer Learning Center by responding to a newspaper ad in the mid-1990s! Yes, so long ago that help-wanted was still in a newspaper!” It would be several years later that Mike would get hired and would conduct his very first class. “I was not going to take no for an answer, I HAD to be a computer instructor! I called and hounded them for 6 months before they finally gave me a position. That was in 2002 and I've been an instructor ever since.” 

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Mike Brown
Certified Technology Instructor @
New Horizons

Mike would not change a thing about his job as an instructor. One of the biggest reasons why he enjoys it is because he feels that you are in control of the class, like a leader, but not a boss. You are a student's motivator, role model, and confidant as they learn new skills and meet their personal goals. “I have been a college professor, taught for the Board of County Commissioners, and worked for years with New Horizons and the best part is that connection when a student learns something new.” Sometimes Mike looks back and thinks about all the lives he has changed over the years. “People that now have college degrees, CompTIA certifications, or students that just wanted a new skill all have been changed forever because I was their instructor. This is what any instructor enjoys about teaching,” Mike says. 

Another reason why Mike feels so rewarded in what he does every day is that before he gained his passion for computers, he never even imagined that being an instructor was in the cards for him. “If it wasn't for that time I, almost by divine intervention, came across a tiny PC running Windows 3.11 --- who knows where I would be. I opened Microsoft Paint and started playing with it and now 27 years later, I live a great, happy prosperous life...all because of a series of wildly connected, lucky after lucky, events that brought me to where I am now.” 

So, what's next for Mike? Well, in his eyes you can never have too many certifications! So, he is sure he will have many more exams to study for! As a Key Wester, he has his kayak and his dog and a lot of adventures yet to be had. “Wherever I go I know I'll have great students and great content to teach them as long as I use Logical Operations! They are what made me such a great instructor!”