A graduate of Shenandoah University’s Career Switcher program, Kristi Rice ’16, has been honored as the 2020 TeachCyber.org Cybersecurity Teacher of the Year for the Platform for Cybersecurity.
I am so honored to be recognized as a 2020 TeachCyber Cybersecurity Teacher of the Year for the Platform for Cybersecurity award.”
Rice teaches business and information technology at Spotsylvania High School in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. There, she teaches three levels of cybersecurity:
- Cybersecurity Fundamentals
- Cybersecurity Operations
- Advanced Cybersecurity Operations
She also recently served on the review and rewrite committee for those three courses with the Virginia Department of Education.
She is the vice chair and Northern Neck regional rep for Virginia Cyber Range, was named the 2017 New Business & IT Educator by the Virginia Business Education Association and was just nominated for the 2021 Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award by Virginia Cyber Range (the winner is announced in May).
Teaching cybersecurity and helping cybersecurity education programs grow are integral to her life as an educator.
“I find that it is important to support new cybersecurity teachers as they get started and build their programs,” she said. “I have worked with numerous school districts to start their cybersecurity programs and assisted their teachers in finding resources to get started. I am currently working with Louisa County Public Schools, which was just awarded the Rural Tech Project grant by the U.S. Department of Education. I am assisting Louisa’s system on curriculum development and setting up classrooms. I am so passionate about cybersecurity education and happy to assist anyone with starting their program.”
Rice, who holds an undergraduate degree in business and information systems, worked for Bruster’s Ice Cream and as a paraeducator before becoming a teacher through the Career Switcher program. She chose Shenandoah’s program because it was flexible, had a location in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and could be completed in a relatively short time frame. “Most [other programs] I saw were a year or more to complete,” she said. It proved to be the perfect decision, as that not only has she been recognized for her efforts in education, she also clearly adores her work.
The thing that I enjoy the most is the faces of my students when I teach them a hacking skill and they in return can do it.”
She said she also enjoys working with them on fun classroom activities as well as taking them on field trips to places like the Pentagon, FBI Headquarters, and National Cryptologic Museum at the National Security Agency so they can see what it is like working in the cyber industry.
The key thing is to bring awareness so that they can be safe online and also the cybersecurity career field. There are so many opportunities in that industry and some of these jobs can be filled right out of high school with the proper industry certification.”