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College district uses state grant to improve education regionwide

Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 1:00:00 AM
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Contact: Della Elliott (619) 644-7690 della.elliott@gcccd.edu

       EL CAJON –  From teacher workshops for high school and college instructors to career training opportunities for local teens, the Grossmont-Cuyamaca  Community College District is helping to improve education throughout the region.

     These initiatives are part of a grant-funded, multipronged effort to improve classroom  instruction and to get high school students interested in becoming tomorrow’s teachers.

       A nearly $225,000 state grant awarded to the college district and administered by Cuyamaca College is being used to fund Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education workshops to help teachers facing new educational standards requiring more math and science instruction.

       Other activities scheduled this year include:

  • A Grossmont Union High School District student ambassadors program to spark interest in teaching career-technical education;
  • A GUHSD East County Career Center Youth Program to develop and train high school students in office occupational careers;
  • Professional development training for GUHSD teachers to acquaint them with new K-12 science standards 

       Tonette Salter, the project director at Cuyamaca College, said because the grant’s focus is on career-technical education – what used to be called vocational education – the STEM workshops have drawn a broad cross-section of instructors. It isn’t just the science, math and computer science instructors benefitting from the workshops, Salter said, but those who teach classes in automotive technology, culinary arts, child development and others relating to career development.

      Nearly two dozen teachers from East County high schools, Cuyamaca College, First Lutheran Preschool in El Cajon and Crafton Hills College in Riverside recently spent a day at the Cuyamaca campus to learn how to use math, geography and satellite positioning for a lesson on the migration of monarch butterflies. Another group of instructors attended a workshop focused on teaching about climate change. Suzanne Till, an adjunct geography instructor at Cuyamaca, developed the workshop curriculum and also led the sessions.

      Salter said all instructors would benefit from incorporating math and science into their teaching because the subjects relate to most disciplines.

     “For example, a CTE culinary arts instructor teaching  a basic menu management class uses basic math  to analyze cost, convert recipes,  and proportion ingredients, as well as create menus,” she said.  “These tasks involve math and science.”

       Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, said the grant funded by the state community college chancellor’s office brings educators from all levels together to help students develop the math and science skills needed in today’s high-tech world.

      “Instructors often don’t realize that they provide STEM education no matter what class they teach, so this program is an excellent way to help them think in those terms and come up with innovative ways to infuse science and math into their lesson plans,” she said. “The college district is delighted to be able to provide the direction and resources to do this.”

      Chris Branton, an automotive technology instructor at Cuyamaca College, said the  monarch butterfly workshop got him to thinking about ways he could introduce concepts in class to students who may lack fundamental  math skills.

       “You have to take into consideration those students who may not know fractions, for example,” he said. “That’s something you need to know to be an auto tech. Even when it comes to aligning tires, you have to understand degrees.”

East County teachers tour the Water Conservation Garden

East County teachers tour the Water Conservation Garden as part of a workshop focusing on infusing science and math concepts in career-technical education classes.

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