BALTIMORE, MD. — Seven National Security Agency (NSA) employees took the phrase “giving back to the community” to heart during a recent visit to Sandalwood Elementary School where they shared cyber safety tips with 4th and 5th grade students and talked about their careers at NSA.
A new NSA K-12 pilot program called “All In” coordinated the volunteers’ visit. The All In program supports under-resourced elementary schools in the counties surrounding NSA’s Maryland headquarters with STEM and world culture education. The program’s goal is to increase awareness and knowledge to build the next generation of citizens and professionals.
In celebration of Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, the volunteers shared cyber safety tips, such as password security, the good and bad of geotagging, and how to stay safe on social media and while emailing. They also highlighted their own cyber careers and experiences.
“The students were engaged in the discussions, eager to share their own stories related to the topics, and walked away with a better understanding on how to be cyber safe at home and in the classroom,” said Jen Greenwaldt, the K-12 Outreach/All In Baltimore County liaison. “Seeing the excitement and engagement of students at these 4th and 5th grade levels was impressive. It made me more aware of the need to educate students on this important topic.”
For Servia D., an engineer at NSA, the visit was personally rewarding.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see how engaged the students were, and how much they already knew about cybersecurity topics at a very young age,” she said. “I am truly fortunate to be part of an Agency that is highly invested into giving back to the community and helping cultivate our future generation, especially in under-represented school communities.”
To augment Sandalwood Elementary School’s cybersecurity curriculum, the NSA volunteers also shared cybersecurity resources from the National Institute of Standards & Technology and the National Initiative for Cyber Education with the school’s teachers.
“With the evolution of technology and the next generation becoming more in-tune with the cyber world, it’s imperative to embrace the National Cybersecurity Workforce and Education Strategy to instill the importance of cyber safety,” Greenwaldt said.