Supporting Teachers — Our Most Valued Partners
At the heart of our education strategy is a focus on teachers, who can help define children's attitudes about science and influence a generation of students over the course of their careers.
We've designed professional development programs so teachers grow more comfortable and competent with science content, processes and teaching strategies — especially as they relate to the ocean, conservation and ecosystem-based learning.
With the opening of our Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership, we'll take this work to a new level. Over the next five years, we expect to reach 6,000 teachers and educators. We'll help them increase their understanding of ocean science and conservation, STEM education and culturally-responsive practices to reach California's increasingly diverse student population.
Professional development programs help teachers grow more comfortable and competent with science content, processes and teaching strategies, and with ecosystem-based learning.
One example from 2018 is our ongoing partnership with Pajaro Valley Unified School District to support its environmental literacy campaign. We've created a summer teacher institute to help the district train elementary school teachers to lead the way in implementing science learning at their schools. These educators are developing ways to use their local environment as the context for science learning, in collaboration with environmental education field trip providers in the region. In its first year, we helped the district prepare 28 teachers on 16 campuses for this leadership role — and we're looking at creating similar partnerships with other school districts.
Our teacher institutes are also creating a network of educators who can collaborate and share the approaches that work well in their classrooms. Two elementary school teachers who met through the institute, Rebecca Cihak from Rocklin in the Sacramento Valley and Karen Levy from Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula, have partnered on a multi-year field project, in which their students collect and compare water quality data from their two school sites. By investigating the links between their watersheds, the students are learning how inland communities are connected to coastal ones.
We look forward to seeing more collaborations like this flourish among teacher institute participants in the future.