Area teachers get help from summer
Teaching is a cushy job -
decent hours, steady paycheck and long summers off. Not!
"That's pretty funny . . . it doesn't work that
way," said Karen Howden, an eighth-grade history teacher for Flour
Bluff Independent School District. "I've spent three days writing
curriculum, a week on one training, another week on another
training. This week preparing for the school year and shopping for
school supplies. Not for my own kids but for the 140 I have coming
in next week. There is always something to do."
Howden, like many Coastal Bend teachers, spent a
good portion of her "summer vacation" getting ready for the coming
academic year at places such as the Region 2 Education Service
Center, which offers continuing education courses in subjects from
math and science to teaching gifted and talented programs and
"We offered more than 240 workshops this summer
and we had at least 2,897 educators take advantage of them," said
Emily Beaudoin, ESC Region 2 spokesperson.
Texas teachers are required by state law to
complete at least 150 hours of continuing education credit during
a five-year period to keep their certification.
ESC also offered 300 grants to American History
teachers giving them the opportunity to take courses at places
such as the Lexington Museum that tie back to what they're
covering in the classroom.
Howden was a participant in that program and
attended a three-day workshop in Galveston focused on immigration
in Texas between 1845-1915 and how the city played a part in the
ethnic makeup of the state.
"Galveston used to be the Ellis Island of
Texas," Howden said.
It's those interesting bits of information,
Howden said, that she'll take back into the classroom this year to
help make history more relevant for her students.
Drafting teacher Jaime Trevino, who has taught
at Moody High School for 23 years, did two week-long 'externships'
this summer, first with the City of Corpus Christi and then with
Flint Hills Resources. Teachers at Moody, such as Trevino, got to
shadow professionals in several departments such as construction,
surveying, production and engineering to see for themselves how
applications they teach in the classroom relate to jobs in the
"I really enjoyed being able to investigate
these jobs for myself," he said.
Now every lesson he teaches, Trevino said, will
be tied to a profession.
"It gives meaning to the work we're doing in
class," he said.
Another plus Trevino said is it offers teachers
access to a valuable network of professionals willing to come into
the classroom and share what they do.
"It's one of the best teaching tools we as
teachers could have," he said.
Though Grant Middle School science teacher J.R.
Jones can say he worked hard and slept little during his weeklong
stay with the Gulf of Mexico Foundation sponsored Down Under Out
Yonder program, he has to admit it was a pretty cool gig. Jones
spent part of his week in Galveston at the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration headquarters. He spent part of his time
remotely operating vehicles made out of Legos and the rest of it
diving the Flower Gardens of the Gulf of Mexico.
"My favorite were the night dives . . . you turn
off your flashlights and the whole sea comes alive," he said.
Jones learned about several subjects including
sea life, computers, engineering and even space travel during his
time in Galveston.
"The weightless in the water is similar to the
weightlessness in space so there were even some NASA scientists
with us," Jones said.
There are many things Jones hopes to incorporate
into his classroom lessons this year. He's particularly excited
about the remotely operated vehicles, not just because they
reinforce math, science and computer skills, but because students
will have to experiment with their designs before they can get
them to work.
"This is the best workshop I have ever
participated in and the very hardest as well," Jones said. "Not
only will I be able to talk about experience with my students I
can show them that sometimes the most gratifying lessons are the
most difficult to do. Sometimes you have to try things more than
one time before you are successful at it."
Contact Venessa Santos-Garza at 886-3752 or
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