Kara Four Bear

Cyber Hero Kara Four Bear Thinks Big About Cyber Education in North Dakota

Kara Four Bear SynED series highlighting cyber heroes who quietly go above and beyond in helping to secure our nation and communities.

NEW TOWN, N.D. — The reach of cybersecurity education is expanding across the U.S., thanks in part to the work of Kara Four Bear, principal at New Town Middle School in New Town, North Dakota. Four Bear was recently honored for work with the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award, presented by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. 

New Town is a rural community of about 2,500 people in western North Dakota. Four Bear was drawn to cyber education because of its ability to help students see the world beyond their homes and prepare them to be global citizens who can thrive in an ever-changing world.  

“In recognizing this need for our learners, our team decided collectively to be brave and to undertake our own learning of cybersecurity, computer science and STEM education,” Four Bear said. “We dared to ask ourselves, ‘What if …’.”  

Four Bear also sees cyber education as an integral part of North Dakota’s Choice Ready initiative, which seeks to have all students be ready for college, the military or the workforce upon graduation. This process begins in middle school, where teachers and students begin building the educational pathways that will help them achieve their future goals.  

As part of creating that pathway, Four Bear built partnerships with the North Dakota Department of Education, the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICE), the North Dakota Center for Distance Education and other organizations throughout the state and across the U.S. Students are able to take part in the summer academy at Valley City State University and participate in NASA’s Near Space project at the University of North Dakota. 

As a rural school with limited resources, Four Bear quickly realized that these partnerships would be essential to providing resources for her students and helping them make connections outside of New Town.  

“School transformations are completely possible for all rural schools within North Dakota and beyond, thanks to partners with purpose in evolving education to include cybersecurity and the computer sciences,” Four Bear said. “Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing professions in the world and we are doing our part to create pipelines of creativity and innovation to inspire youth to consider these career pathways.”

In May, Four Bear was one of two educators in the U.S. to receive the inaugural Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award. The award was established in 2019 through President Trump’s Executive Order on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce. The award’s other recipient is Donna Woods, academic relations manager at SynED’s Cyber-Guild and a teacher at Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California.  

“I am pleased to congratulate Donna Woods and Kara Four Bear, the inaugural class of Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award honorees,” DeVos said in a statement announcing the award. “Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing fields in the world. This award recognizes great teachers who are helping prepare our students to fill those jobs and help keep our nation safe now and in the future.” 

Moving forward, Four Bear hopes to expand her school’s cyber offerings to include extracurricular activities and to provide additional support to students who need it.   

“Cybersecurity and STEM training allow students to learn how their digital actions affect their lives, their futures, and the lives of others. It is important for kids to understand that they have an impact when navigating the digital world,” Four Bear said. “At the end of the day, it is all for our youth and communities.” 

About SynED 

SynED is a non-profit organization that acts as a catalyst to help colleges and other higher education partners equip students with the skills they need to enrich their lives through education, knowledge and skill acquisition, giving them rich career opportunities. 

California Teacher Honored as Inaugural Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award Recipient

Moreno Valley, CA – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced this week that Donna Woods, the Career Technical Education Cyber Pathway Instructor, at Moreno Valley Unified School District, has been selected as one of two national inaugural Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award recipients. This award recognizes Ms. Woods, of Canyon Springs High School, for instilling in her students the skills, knowledge, and passion for cybersecurity. Ms. Woods was nominated for the honor by synED, a non-profit organization that identifies emerging best practices for effective articulation between employers, jobseekers and education providers 

“Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing fields in the world. This award recognizes great teachers who are helping prepare our students to fill those jobs and help keep our nation safe now, and in the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. 

Ms. Woods has fostered pathways to success for students by guiding the creation of career and technical education programs with emphasis on cybersecurity, which include real-world training such as internships and apprenticeships alongside classroom instruction. Throughout Ms. Woods’ five years in the Moreno Valley Unified School District’s Cyber Academic Pathway, 97.4% of students have achieved industry certifications. She has also led award-winning CyberPatriot teams, which compete in challenges to secure virtual networks.   

Ms. Woods credits California’s collaborative approach to cybersecurity for the successes of her students.
“The key to our success is synergy across the state. It is about breaking down silos and ensuring students, regardless of their zip code, have the tools they need to learn and build their cyber skills,” said Ms. Woods. “Thanks to the leadership at my District and partnership with synED, I’ve had the ability to work alongside industry leaders at CompTIA, Palo Alto Networks and Amazon Web Services to mentor and train my students.” 

Ms. Woods was nominated for the honor by synED, a non-profit organization that identifies emerging best practices for effective articulation between employers, jobseekers and education providers. Ms. Woods serves as the Academic Relations Manager for synED and was key in building the Cyber-Guild. The Cyber-Guild was initially formed as a collaborative effort in California (California Cyberhub) and is now a national resource to drive cybersecurity initiatives across the nation. 

The Department received 43 nominations from 23 states, and Ms. Woods, along with Ms. Four Bear, of New Town Middle School in New Town, North Dakota, were selected based on their demonstration of superior educator accomplishment, academic achievement indicators, and leadership contributing to educational excellence. 

Donna has been a leader in developing Cybersecurity Guided Pathway curriculum and advising others across California. She is well-known throughout the cybersecurity education and government communities for her leadership and advocacy, both in her position as a high school teacher and for her work with Cyber-Guild. It was our pleasure to nominate her for this prestigious award to give recognition for her tireless efforts,” said Scott Young, President and Executive Director, synED. 

Students are equally proud of their teacher’s historic recognition. “When I walked into Ms. Woods ‘Cyber Science’ course my senior year, I wasn’t interested in computer science or cybersecurity, but she encouraged me to understand why it was so important to my future,” said Amiyah Breeding, now a cadet at the United States Airforce Academy. “Today, being a cybersecurity professional in the United States Airforce is one of my career aspirations.” 

As she embarks on her year-long responsibilities as an ambassador for cybersecurity education, she has high ambitions for raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity in our everyday lives. “We need a national #usacyberstrong awareness campaign that features our students to showcase the future of cyber. We need to take what California has modeled, the synergies among education and industry, the development of ideas and innovation, and take it to a national audience,” concluded Ms. Woods.   

In addition to her duties at Moreno Valley Unified School District and synED, Ms. Woods serves on the California Governor’s Cybersecurity Task Force and the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Working Group and the NICE K-12 planning group. 

As part of this commendation, Ms.Woods will receive acknowledgement by President Donald J. Trump and Secretary DeVos, public recognition as leader in the field of cybersecurity education, and professional development opportunities. 

This award was established on May 2, 2019, by President Trump’s Executive Order on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce. The U.S. Department of Education was charged to create this award within one year and in consultation with the Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the National Security Council and the National Science Foundation. 

For information on the nomination and selection process, please visit here. Information on the Executive Order is available here.   


About SynED 

SynED is a non-profit organization that acts as a catalyst to help colleges and other higher education partners equip students with the skills they need to enrich their lives through education, knowledge and skill acquisition, giving them rich career opportunities. 

Cyber Hero Steve Linthicum advances community colleges’ role in cybersecurity education

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Community colleges play a unique role in filling the thousands of open cybersecurity positions across California, and Steve Linthicum is at the forefront of helping students create the pathways that will lead to stable, well-paying jobs. 


Linthicum is the Regional Director for Industry Engagement in Orange County for the Information Communications Technologies/Digital Media (ICT-DM) sector of California Community Colleges. In that role, he brings partners from education and industry together to meet critical workforce needs, like the one that exists in cybersecurity. 


Before his current role, Linthicum spent nearly 20 years as an instructor at Sierra College in Rocklin, where he saw firsthand the valuable role that community colleges play in meeting ever-changing workforce demand. 


“Because we have the ability to modify our courses quickly, not being constricted by the curriculum modification process 4-year colleges and universities face, we can teach what we need to be teaching in this rapid evolution of technologies,” Linthicum said. 


Linthicum began incorporating cybersecurity into his courses in the late 1990s, with a focus on Microsoft Windows and Novell Netware security. Back then, he says, privacy and security were largely ignored because computers were not networked.  


The addition of virtual machines in the years since has made teaching complex networking and other activities much easier. 


“Teaching hands-on labs required the use of physical equipment rather than virtual machines, making it difficult to experience complex networking scenarios,” Linthicum said. “With virtualization, all we are limited to is our imagination when creating labs.”  


Linthicum helped launch the IT Fundamentals Voucher Program, one of the resources offered by the Cyber-Guild in partnership with CompTIA, Practice Labs and ITProTV. The program provides high school and community college students with the opportunity to earn professional IT certifications while they are still in school.  


“We have introduced students to industry-recognized certifications, and most of them now have their first certification, a recognized key to success for IT/cybersecurity careers,” Linthicum said. “Entry-level positions do not require an associate or bachelor’s degree. Students entering this career path can obtain additional higher-level certifications through courses offered by California’s community colleges.” 


Linthicum is also a leader in Coastline College’s Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program, which began in 2017 as a way to bridge the gap between education and the workforce and help meet employer demand for entry-level positions. Students in the program receive on-the-job training as well as online instruction in networking or cybersecurity. 


Tommy Hiers was one of the students in the apprenticeship program and recently accepted a position as a systems administrator at Space and Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, a U.S. Navy research lab in San Diego. He also works part-time as an instructor for Abled Disabled Advocacy teaching students what they need to know to pass the CompTIA Network+ and Security+ exams. 


Hiers spent the majority of his career as a nurse and credited Linthicum as one of the people who helped give him the confidence he needed to make the transition to cybersecurity.  


“I often wondered if I could successfully do anything else because I had been a nurse for so long,” Hiers said. “I am in my 40s and changing careers is no small feat. I would not have been able to do this without the guidance that Steve and Tobi West have provided. I now use many of the things that Steve taught me to teach my students.” 


Outside of his teaching work, Linthicum is a volunteer with the Information Technology Disaster Recovery Center, a non-profit that deploys volunteer tech teams to areas impacted by natural disasters or other catastrophic events. He traveled to the Bahamas last fall to help bring the region’s technology infrastructure back online following Hurricane Dorian. 


About SynED 

SynED is a non-profit organization that acts as a catalyst to help colleges and other higher education partners equip students with the skills they need to enrich their lives through education and knowledge and skill acquisition, giving them rich career opportunities. SynED is home to the Cyber-Guild and Mayors Cyber Cup. 


About the ICT-DM Sector 

The ICT-Digital Media Sector team focuses on relevant and effective skills training in the ICT sector. Working with employers, recruiters and colleges, our statewide team of 12 ICT  Regional Directors of Employer Engagement identify and advance successful and trusted educational strategies, or pathways, for all students – entry, advanced, and incumbent. 

Cyber Hero Tara Taylor opens doors to cybersecurity education

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Tara Taylor believes that cybersecurity education is for everyone, and embraces that philosophy every day in her teaching and coaching.  

Taylor, a computer science teacher and cyber coach at Eastlake Middle School in Chula Vista, began her career as an English teacher and transitioned to teaching a basic computer skills class. She saw a need for something that would appeal to students who were interested in technology but not proficient enough for advanced coding.  

Cybersecurity proved to be just what she was looking for. She jumped into training for the Mayors Cyber Cup and found that her students were willing to come along for the ride — even if they didn’t have the skills they needed just yet. 

“People talk about coding all the time, but our computers also need security, and kids need to understand the basics behind it and how the Internet works and how they can protect themselves,” Taylor said. “You don’t have to be an amazing coder to be good at cybersecurity, and cyber competitions appealed to a different group of kids who can succeed even if they’re not good coders.” 

Like a lot of schools in California, Taylor saw interest in cyber programs grow exponentially after the first year. She went from one team of students to five and from finding one vulnerability in a competition to placing 10th in the nation. 

Every Friday, all of Taylor’s teams meet together in the school library for competition and camaraderie. She orders pizza and allows students to mingle with each other and with their cyber mentor.  

These gatherings help Taylor spread the message that cyber competitions are for everyone. She encourages any student who is interested to try it out, knowing that they can back out if they find it’s not a good fit for them. 

“I don’t have tryouts and I don’t cut people out,” she said. “I have students with learning disabilities on my team; they might not be the strongest competitors, but if they want to be part of the group, then I want them to be there.” 

Taylor’s efforts were recognized in 2017 with the Guardian Angel of Cyber Award from the SoCal Cyber Cup Challenge. She received the award for her efforts to spread cyber education to other schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District.  

Her message to her colleagues at other schools is always that they don’t need to be cybersecurity experts to start and coach a successful team. The key comes in finding a mentor who can provide technical expertise to students.   

Taylor said she’s been fortunate to work with several great mentors over the years. Her program has reached the point where high school students are now able to serve as mentors for middle school students. She hopes to expand this peer-to-peer instruction moving forward.   

“I’ll be the first to tell you that the students know more than I do,” Taylor said. “I’m not the person going in with all this knowledge and trying to impose it on them. I try to give the kids an environment where they can learn it because they want to, not because they feel like they have to.” 

Beyond the growth in cyber education in her district, Taylor said she’s also excited to see awareness increase among other parts of the educational system. 

“It’s so great to hear that there are cybersecurity classes being taught at the college level,” She said. “People are finally starting to see that cybersecurity is just as important as computer science.” 

About SynED 

SynED is a non-profit organization that acts as a catalyst to help colleges and other higher education partners equip students with the skills they need to enrich their lives through education and knowledge and skill acquisition, giving them rich career opportunities. SynED is home to the Cyber-Guild and Mayors Cyber Cup. 

California’s Cyber All-American Competes at CyberPatriot Nationals

Charissa Kim attended her first cyber camp during the summer before her freshman year of high school. Now, the graduating senior at Troy High School is getting ready to participate in her fourth CyberPatriot National competition — a designation that’s earned her the honor of Cyber All-American. 


Kim said it did not take long after that first camp for her to know that cybersecurity would become her passion and future career path.  


“With the touch of the keyboard and mouse, I could easily secure technological devices,” Kim said. “After learning how to defend my virtual images, I thought it was amazing how I could potentially configure vulnerabilities and defend innocent people from hackers.” 


Kim and her teammates at Troy High School practice 2-3 hours per day; that hard work has paid off with three consecutive trips to CyberPatriot Nationals, including a first-place finish in the All-Service Division at CyberPatriot X in 2018. 


Along the way, Kim received the Northrop Grumman Information Systems Scholarship in 2017 and 2018 and earned an IT Fundamentals certification. She also serves as a mentor to younger students on her team and organized an all-female hackathon. 


“I enjoy CyberPatriot because it is a team sport. Every individual on the team has to play an important part on the team,” Kim said. “This fast-paced competition has turned into a fun method to test and hone my Cisco skills.” 


She also founded a non-profit called Cyber Youth Tech, an international, youth-led organization dedicated to empowering the next generation of STEM and cyber leaders. The group currently has 12 branches around the world focused on the pillars of community, education, opportunity, and outreach.  


“Founding Cyber Youth Tech allowed me to realize that anyone, including me, has the potential to greatly spread awareness about cybersecurity,” Kim said. “Organizing one of the first all-female hackathons allowed me to see that there is the potential to close the gender gap in the tech industry.” 


When she’s not busy with cybersecurity activities, Kim is part of Troy High School’s mock trial and cross-country teams and a Unit Management Systems Officer in the NJROTC. 


Moving forward, Kim hopes to pursue a cybersecurity degree at the U.S. Naval Academy and serve the country as a cyber warfare officer. She also has applied for the National Security Agency’s Stokes Educational Scholarship Program as an alternative means to go to college and become a cybersecurity professional. 


“As the world is becoming more technology-based, many industries are vulnerable to cyber attacks, meaning cybersecurity is becoming more prevalent and vital to today’s society,” Kim said. “Working as a network analyst or a cybersecurity specialist could help fulfill my passion for cybersecurity and majorly benefit companies or industries from being attacked.”  


Cyber Hero Mario Garcia keeps California safe, builds cybersecurity workforce

SACRAMENTO — In a state as large and complex as California, staying ahead of cybersecurity threats can be a challenge. However, it’s a challenge Mario Garcia is happy to accept. 

Garcia is Acting Commander of the California Cybersecurity Integration Center (Cal-CSIC), which was established in 2015 as part of the CalOES, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.  

Cal-CSIC is responsible for coordinating with the California State Threat Assessment System and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as local government, utilities, and other organizations. 

Garcia and Cal-CSIC also play an integral part in recruiting new members of the state’s cybersecurity workforce. Like many in the field, he recognizes the gaps that exist between the number of positions that need to be filled and the number of skilled workers available to fill them. He enjoys working with the Cyber-Guild and other partners to close the gap.  

“One of my longstanding responsibilities is education and workforce development,” Garcia said. “In this capacity, I am supporting the programs that are out there and encouraging children and youth to explore their interest in cybersecurity.” 

Meeting cybersecurity workforce demand becomes even more difficult in the public sector, where salaries are sometimes not as competitive as the private sector. Garcia and the Cal-CSIC team recognize this challenge and are working with partners throughout education to show students the value of careers in government. 

“Government entities have a real challenge as far as attracting talent,” Garcia said. “We are partnering with the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Cal Poly and Cyber-Guild to help encourage programs and let the students know that the government needs them to help protect California’s infrastructure.  

Garcia also cited the work of the California Governor’s Cybersecurity Task Force, Workforce Development and Education in helping to create strong K-14 cybersecurity education pathways. 

The California Cybersecurity Task Force, and in particular, Dr. Keith Clement from Fresno State who serves as the Co-Chair of the Workforce Development and Education Subcommittee has done an enormous amount of work in this area,” Garcia said. 

Garcia recognizes that events like the California Mayors Cyber Cup are an important part of building that workforce pipeline. He said he’s continually impressed by the students he sees at the event. 

“It’s exciting to see them show their interest and knowledge and experience,” Garcia said. “It may take a few years until we can hire them, but it shows that we are heading in the right direction.” 

cyber attack on any part of California’s government could hurt the state’s economy and cause major disruptions for its residents. Cal-CSIC works to make sure these attacks don’t happen and provide information to government agencies on how to practice good cyber hygiene.  

“My primary focus is to protect the state of California and California’s economy,” Garcia said. “We educate employees about phishing attacks, alert agencies about cyber threats and provide steps for remediation, and conduct incident response should their network and their systems get compromised.” 

Garcia previously served as division chief of the California National Guard’s Data Management and Systems Integration Division, which is responsible for federal IT systems supporting the California Army National Guard.  


About Cal OES 

California is prone to earthquakes, floods, significant wildfires, prolonged drought impacts, public health emergencies, cybersecurity attacks, agricultural and animal disasters, as well as threats to homeland security.  Cal OES takes a proactive approach to addressing these risks, threats, and vulnerabilities that form the basis of our mission and has been tested through real events, as well as comprehensive exercises that help us maintain our state of readiness and plan for and mitigate impacts. 

About SynED 

SynED is a non-profit organization that acts as a catalyst to help colleges and other higher education partners equip students with the skills they need to enrich their lives through education and knowledge and skill acquisition, giving them rich career opportunities. SynED is home to the Cyber-Guild and Mayors Cyber Cup. 

Milton Security Group Partners with synED to Strengthen the Cyber Workforce in California

Announcement of a new partnership with SynED to increase professional employment opportunities throughout the cybersecurity industry.


FULLERTON, CA – February 26, 2020 – Milton Security Group, Inc.®, a leading cybersecurity company specializing in 24*7 cyber threat hunting,  monitoring, and incident response, announced today a new partnership with SynED to increase professional employment opportunities throughout the cybersecurity industry. This partnership leads the way for this effort in Orange County, CA.

SynED is a non-profit organization working with educational institutions, training partners, placement agencies and service providers to increase a strong and highly skilled workforce throughout California.

Read more

Cyber Hero Stan Stahl Brings Community to Cybersecurity

LOS ANGELES — No matter how sophisticated technology becomes, solving problems related to cybersecurity will require a human innovation and connection. These themes run throughout Stan Stahl’s work in the public and private sectors and fuel his passion for cybersecurity education. 

Stahl is the founder and president of SecureTheVillage, a non-profit that turns people and organizations into CyberGuardians having the knowledge, skills, and commitment needed to meet the ongoing challenges of cyber crime, cyber privacy and information security. He is also co-founder and president of Citadel Information Group, an information security management services firm recently acquired by Miller Kaplan, a Top-100 CPA firm. 

Stahl began his career as a mathematics professor and eventually transitioned into information security when he was working for the U.S. government. When he met the CyberGuild team, he immediately saw parallels to the work that SecureTheVillage does to educate California’s residents about cybersecurity. 

“Bill Gates had a goal of putting a computer on every desk in America; our goal is to put a CyberGuardian in every seat,” says Stahl.  

Meeting that goal requires collaboration between industry, government and educational partners. Stahl saw those connections in action last year when he attended the California Mayors Cyber Cup, a California statewide cybersecurity competition organized by the CyberGuild to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity education in workforce development. Stahl also had the opportunity to visit the presentation of the Cyber Cup to the Los Angeles City Council.   

“The energy that the students brought I found just phenomenal … I was blown away,” Stahl said. “These are the projects I want to continue and do more of through the CyberGuardian program at SecureTheVillage.” 

Stahl sees cybersecurity as one of the greatest challenges of our time, a challenge that will be met when everyone is doing their part to protect their information and their computers. He talks about our need to mobilize CyberGuardians the way Winston Churchill mobilized the British people during the battle of Dunkirk in 1940.  

Stahl draws inspiration from John F. Kennedy’s challenge of “doing hard things” to meet ambitious goals like putting a man on the moon.  

He is also inspired by a sense of patriotism and pride in the U.S. that moves beyond the political tensions that prevent forward progress. He sees the potential to weave a new social fabric based on common interests like cybersecurity. 

“Even as we have stumbled very far from our ideals, we do have our ideals and we drive them forward,” Stahl said. “For people who are really interested in cybersecurity, there is a community waiting to be built. Weaving that community together is what drives me.”  

About SecureTheVillage 

SecureTheVillage turns people and organizations into CyberGuardians through cybersecurity community building and education. 

About Citadel Information Group 

Citadel Information Group — now Miller Kaplan — based in Los Angeles, CA, provides information security management services to businesses and the not-for-profit community. 

About SynED 

SynED is a non-profit organization that acts as a catalyst to help colleges and other higher education partners equip students with the skills they need to enrich their lives through education and knowledge and skill acquisition, giving them rich career opportunities. SynED is home to the Cyber-Guild and Mayors Cyber Cup. 


Cyber Hero Allen Stubblefield Teaches Students More Than Cybersecurity

Allen Stubblefield didn’t know it at the time, but cyber competitions helped fill an unmet need at Troy High School. As a magnet school for science and technology, he thought cybersecurity would be a good fit, but is as surprised as anyone that the school now hosted 60 teams this year and several CyberPatriot national championships. 

Stubblefield holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science but spent his first career in the U.S. Navy, where those skills were not a priority. However, his time in the Navy did allow him to become involved with the high school junior ROTC program, which showed him the power that positive role models can have on young people and planted the seed that he might want to work with students during the next phase of his career. 

“I was really impressed at how those retired sailors and Marines were making a positive impact on kids every day. I knew what I wanted to do after I retired from the Navy,” Stubblefield said.  

Stubblefield retired from the Navy in 2005 and settled in Orange County. He started as an ROTC teacher and decided to give CyberPatriot a try when it started in 2010.  

His team was small, with five students, a mentor, and Stubblefield as their coach. Although he has a technology background, he sees his primary role as “chief facilitator” — or some days, “chief cat herder.” He began by using cybersecurity professionals to serve as mentors and teach technical skills while he focuses on leadership, organization, and motivation. 

He kept that philosophy as the number of students in CyberPatriot grew from 5 to 25 to now more than 400 across 75 high school and middle school teams. He now looks to older students to share the teaching responsibilities. 

“When it comes to coaching, I love sitting down with a team and coming up with a plan,” Stubblefield said. “I am not the best fisherman, but I can find people to teach them how to fish.” 

CyberPatriot teams from Troy High School have taken top honors at CyberPatriot Nationals in 2018 and 2019. Stubblefield, who was named CyberPatriot Coach of the Year in 2016, said he measures success by seeing students personally motivated to work hard, learn new material and getting better results every year. 

He’s always quick to emphasize, though, that success looks different for everyone and, though everyone has the potential to be national champions, far fewer teams will actually achieve that honor.  

“I’m trying to give them all something to continue to shoot for,” Stubblefield said. “I emphasize that everyone is learning more than just cybersecurity.” 

In addition to being active in CyberPatriot, Stubblefield and Troy High School hosted the 2019 California Mayors Cyber Cup in Orange County. The school’s teams won first, second, and third place in the competition. Troy High School also started a four year cybersecurity academic pathway in 2016 and Stubblefield transitioned as a teach from JROTC to cybersecurity and computer science.  

“I finally get to use my college degrees,” said Stubblefield. 

Stubblefield draws his own motivation from the huge demand for cybersecurity professionals in the workforce in California and across the U.S. He said this message also resonates with families, which is part of the reason why CyberPatriot grew so quickly at Troy High School. 

“Families realized that cyber is an important field that no one else was offering,” Stubblefield said. “We’re short half a million positions, and we need everyone who is interested to learn about cybersecurity. I know Troy is not going to fill that void, but we’re doing our part.” 

Stubblefield further capitalized on the interest among students and parents by hosting cyber camps for the past four summers. These camps gave middle school and high school students the opportunity to learn about cybersecurity in a motivating and empowering way — with the hope that the enthusiasm they picked up during camp will lead to increased participation in cyber competitions and, eventually, more diversification of the cybersecurity workforce.  

He also opened up his camps to students from any area school with the hopes of seeing more students interested in cybersecurity. 

Stubblefield also sees summer camps as a way to try to increase the number of females in the cybersecurity and STEM work forces.  

“Middle school girls are willing to try and do anything because no one has told them yet that they can’t or they shouldn’t,” Stubblefield said. “That’s the secret to getting more women involved in cybersecurity … start them early so they can gain firsthand experience and try it out in a safe environment. We have had female only rooms for the past two summers to provide these impressionable students with a safe and supportive environment to trying cybersecurity.” 

Stubblefield, at the request of parents, also started an elementary cyber camp last year, based on CyberPatriot’s Elementary School Cybersecurity Education Initiative. He hopes to expand that program this summer. 

Stubblefield started his career at Troy High School teaching ROTC and coaching cyber teams on the side, but because of the interest in cyber, he’s now working full-time in career and technical education, teaching AP Computer Science Principles, Computer Operating Systems Security, and Cybersecurity Fundamentals. 

“In the spring of 2016, we surveyed our [CyberPatriot] students, and 85 percent of our 45 high schoolers and 25 middle schoolers said they would take classes in cybersecurity if we offered them. I had no idea that the participation level would grow to what it is now,” Stubblefield said.  

Moving forward, Stubblefield’s background in technology and experience in the military makes him the perfect fit to continue expanding cybersecurity education at Troy High School and beyond. He’s excited to continue building on the success he’s achieved and help create the next generation of cyber leaders.  

“These students are the future defenders of our digital world. They are serious about pursuing degrees in cybersecurity and joining the cyber defense workforce with the government, military, or business. They are so eager to learn new cyber information every day, and their enthusiasm is so contagious,” he said. 

Cyber Hero Keith Clement Opens Cybersecurity Career Education Pipelines and Pathways for Students

The old saying “it takes a village” definitely applies to cybersecurity education. There are a lot of teachers, coaches, and institutions involved at every step of the educational pathway, which can lead to a lot of silos and unknowing duplication of effort. 

At a time when the need for skilled cybersecurity professionals has never been greater, it’s critical that everyone is on the same page about achieving systemic change. Keith Clement is perhaps the perfect person to help make that happen.  

Clement is a professor of criminology at California State University, Fresno. He also serves as California Governor’s Cybersecurity Task Force, Workforce Development and Education Subcommittee Chair. He came to cybersecurity through the similarly “emerging high need areas” of homeland security and emergency management.  

He has designed model curricula, academic standards, and much other educational programming. Professor Clement received a Scientific Leadership Early Career Faculty Award from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ran a California State University Faculty Affinity Group, CSU Council for Emergency Management and Homeland Security (CEMHS) for eight years.  

“Cyber is also a newly emerging specialization and we need to make a solid connection,” Clement said. “I am a connector of people and organizations in the public and private sector, including nonprofits and education/higher education communities at all levels of education.” 

Technology also runs in Clement’s family. His father was a programmer and systems analyst and his family owned a TRS 80, one of the first personal computers to hit the market.  

Clement has developed the California Cybersecurity Career Education Pipeline and Pathway Project (CCCEPP), an initiative to prepare 50,000 qualified cybersecurity professionals for the State of California between January 2020 and December 2030. 

He was inspired to get involved in the effort to improve cybersecurity education after seeing a lack of coordination and facilitation among key partners and major stakeholders, including out-of-date college course materials that were not preparing students for what industry will require of them.  

“Industry and tech are moving so far forward so quickly that the education community and our programs can’t keep up,” Clement said. “We are very behind. I’ve seen syllabi that haven’t been updated in years and looks like they belong in the museum.”  

To meet the CCCEPP’s goals, Clement said cybersecurity education needs to start in earnest as early as middle school or younger and continue through a bachelor’s degree or higher. Along the way, students need to supplement their education with apprenticeships, professional certifications, and other hands-on experiences. 

The approach also calls for increased focus on extracurricular activities like cyber competitions and calls the process of giving them more weight in the educational process a “serious overhaul” to the status quo.  

“People who do competitions and leagues are better able to make the connection between the classroom and real-world experiences,” Clement said. “We call competitions essential to the process.”  

Clement hopes phase 1 of the CCCEPP’s work (cyber programs from middle school through a bachelor’s degree) will be implemented by 2021. Efforts to expand to elementary school and post-baccalaureate degrees will occur in phase 2.   

Though there are a lot of moving parts to make these large-scale changes happen, Clement said he wouldn’t have it any other way.  

“I do hear the word ‘tenacious’ a lot and that I’m not inclined to take no for an answer,” he said. “It’s all a matter of time and organization and putting in the sweat equity. I want to be considered part of the network linking pulling all of these people together across California and getting them on the same page.” 

KB Table of Content

KB Table of Content