Archive for August, 2009

Tucson Values Teachers (TVT) Offers Industry Internship Program to STEM Educators

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Recently, Ms. Jacquelyn Jackson, Executive Director of Tucson Values Teachers (TVT), joined the Summer Workation team as an advisory member. Not only do we wish to welcome her and thank her for the years of experience that she brings to Summer Workation, but we also want to take this opportunity to direct attention to the valuable resources that she and her team at Tucson Values Teachers work so hard to make available to educators in the southern Arizona region.

Tucson Values Teachers is a regional initiative that emphasizes the crucial role that teachers play and the profound impact that they have in our communities. One particular resource that they offer is a unique industry internship program that provides teachers with an opportunity to earn a graduate degree while simultaneously experiencing first-hand the technical side of various industries in engineering.

TVT, in partnership with the University of Arizona Department of Education, created an innovative masters program for K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) educators that also includes a high-profile industry internship. During three consecutive summers, teachers who participate in the program work alongside scientists, mathematicians and engineers for four days each week at one of the area’s leading industries. Prominent corporations such as Raytheon, BioVigilant, Texas Instruments, Sundt and General Plasma have agreed to provide the teachers with paid summer internships in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The four-day work schedule is designed to allow time on Fridays for teachers to take courses that count towards their master’s degree.

Like Summer Workation, Tucson Values Teachers recognizes the importance of providing educators with summer opportunities that stimulate, challenge and engage them on a higher level. Summer Workation would like to thank the TVT team for their efforts and for working in conjunction with the University of Arizona Department of Education to create such a wonderful industry internship program.

To learn more about Tucson Values Teachers and their industry internship program, visit their website, www.tucsonvaluesteachers.org.

Educators Share Their Thoughts and Experiences with Summer Workation

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

As Summer Workation continues to grow, we are always looking to hear from teachers. We want to learn about their experiences with finding summer growth opportunities so that we can continue to ensure that our services are adapting to meet teachers’ needs. Below, you can read what a few dedicated educators had to share with us recently:

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Ms. Stephanie Bullock
4th Grade Teacher
The Lovett School
Atlanta, GA

Although summer is indeed a time to relax, how important is it for teachers to spend this time away from the classroom learning new skills? Do you think that Summer Workation can help teachers use this time in a more productive manner?

Teachers who are committed to professional growth view summer as a time to hone their skills, organize and pre-plan for the next group of eager students, and grow their thinking in the areas that interest them. I believe that it is vitally important for teachers to use the summer months to engage in professional reading, reflect on the previous school year with colleagues, and strengthen skills as necessary to meet changing students’ needs. I think Summer Workation can absolutely assist teachers in finding summer opportunities to help them achieve those goals.

In the past, how difficult (or easy) has it been for you or your colleagues to find summer growth opportunities? Do you wish that there were more options available to teachers during the summer?

I wouldn’t call it easy to find summer professional development opportunities beyond what my principal and school suggest. Once a teacher determines his or her specific area of interest, it’s typically up to him or her to locate conferences or workshops that serve his/her purposes for the summer. I think that a list of various categories (i.e. educational technology, reading instruction and literacy, creative writing, mathematics, etc.) with corresponding opportunities for professional development by geographic location would be extremely beneficial to teachers.

What do you think of Summer Workation’s goal to help teachers become better and more effective educators? Considering the services that we provide, do you think that this a realistic goal for our organization?

I do believe that with Summer Workation’s assistance, in the past I would have been better plugged in to the resources out there for me. I absolutely think this is a worthwhile tool! It streamlines the summer planning process for teachers and offers to connect them to businesses or organizations with similar visions. Great idea!

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Mr. Jason Flom
4th Grade Teacher
Cornerstone Learning Community
Tallahassee, FL

Tell us about your summer experiences and the types of growth opportunities that you seek out during your time away from the classroom.

As a father, husband and avid traveler, I relish my teaching schedule. Summertime, for me, is meant for exploring, learning, and spending time laughing with my daughter. When it comes to summer professional development I tend toward individual studies or conferences/institutes with a specific focus.

Do you think that Summer Workation can help teachers use their summer breaks in a more productive or meaningful manner?

I do know teachers who work during the summer (I salute them), but the majority of them find work locally in order to be near family and other responsibilities. However, I think the database your organization manages is extremely vital, especially for teachers new to the field who still have summers free to roam the countryside in a professional context. You guys have probably already explored/developed this area, but I would encourage you to continue marketing your services to pre-service teachers at universities who might really benefit from seeing teaching opportunities beyond the classrooms in their local districts. Education majors would find it incredibly helpful to make money in a field that adds to their professional experience-something that would increase their chances of finding a quality teaching post directly out of school.

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Ms. Lisa Seay
6th Grade Science, Pre-AP Science & Gifted/Talented Teacher
Clyde Boyd Middle School
Sand Springs, OK

How successful have you or your colleagues been at finding meaningful summer jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities? Do you think that Summer Workation can make the process of finding summer growth opportunities easier?

Most of the teachers I know must work during the summers, just to make ends meet. They work at the local fruit stands, or mow lawns, or teach summer school. It would be wonderful if these educators had the opportunity to find summer jobs that would allow them to support their families as well as improve their teaching skills. It has been very easy for me to find summer opportunities, because I am in the position that I do not have to have a second income during the summer months. Still, it would be much easier to have this information in one convenient place, rather than spend hours going through journals and countless e-mails, culling through the spam for those few nuggets of professional development gold.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I feel that a big part of my job as a teacher is to be a professional learner. From content to pedagogy…I’ll never know all there is to know. But I can sure try!

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Ms. Tara Clark
12th Grade British Literature Teacher & Drama Director

In your own opinion, how should teachers spend their summer breaks and how can Summer Workation help?

Each teacher is different. I think it is important, one way or another, to utilize the summer break to recharge. For some, this will mean travel. For others, it means working in a field that interests them outside of education. For some, it may mean going back to school. I think teachers should consider summer as a time to get themselves mentally prepared for the next year, but it is also a time to improve upon what they do. English teachers may visit sites related to the works they teach, science teachers may take part in a workshop, history teachers may go on a dig somewhere. I think the more resources out there dedicated to teachers, the better. If Summer Workation can help teachers find what it is that makes them go back to school inspired for a new year, great!

What do you think of Summer Workation’s goal of helping teachers become stronger educators.

I believe the best teachers are those who always want to be better. I think Summer Workation seems to have the right goals in mind to help teachers. If I knew of opportunities that would help me in the classroom, I would be more likely to participate in more over the summers.

Have you noticed that the number of summer schools has been shrinking in recent years? Has this impacted your search for summer job opportunities in the past?

I didn’t notice, but honestly, I want to spend my summer doing something besides teaching! I think summer gives us a chance to grow as individuals and that growth can benefit us in the classroom.