As usual, I am late writing this column for our newsletter. However, being late has some advantages, I can report on late breaking news that I wouldn't have been able to if I had written this in a more timely manner!
IMA and Course Update (New Course Fee to be Implemented)
In the last issue of the newsletter, I mentioned some rule changes in the IMA program and the courses that we offer. Although things have cleared a little, we will still be implementing our new course fee schedule. Beginning in January, our course fee will increase to $150.00. I apologize for the increase in the fee schedule but it is unavoidable.
As you know with the Education Accountability Act there have been a lot of new challenges that schools have been facing this year. The South Carolina Statewide Systemic Initiative has tried to be as responsive as possible to the needs of the schools, teachers and administrators. I know that I mentioned these activities in the August Jeff's Corner, but I think they are worth mentioning again.
DATA Toolkit - This is an instrument that will help school administrators analyze school data to help in the decision making process. Each Hub will be offering a two day training on the use of the kit, so if your school administrator hasn't participated in a training session yet, you might want to make them aware of it.
Cluster School Leadership Academy - This has the potential of being more powerful than our Curriculum Leadership Institutes were when we first started the SSI. In short, this academy is a strategic planning process for a cluster of feeder schools to work together to analyze their data, analyze their curriculum, and identify areas that need to be addressed. Once these areas of need are identified, the cluster of schools devise a strategic plan that will encompass curriculum/instruction/assessment, professional development, supplemental academic program planning, and community/parental involvement. This becomes very powerful because it looks at the needs from K-12 so that there is articulation between the schools.
Content Courses/Standards - Although most people are familiar with what is available as far as professional development is concerned, I thought it is worth mentioning again. The Hubs will continue to provide professional development in the content areas. This will be augmented by the S.C. Department of Education call for proposals for content courses. There should be plenty of opportunities for educators to hone their skills in science, mathematics and technology.
Speaking of standards and content courses, the first reading of the revised science standards was in November. Hopefully, by the time you read this the second reading of the standards will have passed, and we again will have science standards to guide our instruction.
News from State Education Committees
Other important news on the horizon. The Governor's Council on Teacher Quality and his Committee on Middle Schools are preparing their reports. Both reports have very similar themes. Both stress that professional development in the content areas is key to a teacher's success. They both indicate that more time should be allocated for professional development. I have heard that they may recommend adding 5 to 10 more professional development days to the calendar (where have I heard that before??!!).
News from the RPSEC/CSRA Hub
As you know, this year has been an exciting one for the RPSEC. We moved into our new facility in September. We are still trying to get adjusted to being spread out over three floors. If you haven't had a chance to see the facility, please do so. Although we are still making minor adjustments (and will continue to do so), I think you will find the building an exciting learning facility.
In addition to the new facility, by the end of January we hope to have two new employees on board. Ms. Bridget Coleman will be joining the CSRA Hub as the mathematics specialist. Bridget comes to us from New Ellenton Middle School where she has been teaching mathematics for the past 7 years. Bridget has her M.Ed. from USCA and was in our first Curriculum Leadership Institute. Also joining our staff is Ms. Katheryn Komoroski. Katheryn will be working at our Natural Resources Science, Mathematics, Engineering Education Program. She comes to us from Paul Knox Middle School where she has been teaching science for the past 4 years.
As we welcome the two new members to our family, it is with regret that I inform you that Norm Rischbieter will be leaving us. Norm has decided to help out in his family's business. By the first of the year, he and his wife Carolyn will be moving to New York to start their new adventure. We will miss both Norm and Carolyn and wish them well in their new endeavor.
With Norm leaving, Jody Childs will be taking over duties as director of NRSMEEP. We anticipate a smooth transition with that program.
Summer Field Course Opportunities
Finally, with my early summer commitments with the schools in the area, I will have to postpone the Africa trip until 2001. If prices hold as they currently are, that trip will cost $5,000, so save your pennies. However, in its place, I will be offering an Ecology of the Desert Southwest course for the last part of July. I am hoping to take a group of 10 teachers to Southern Utah where we will join up with 10 teachers from Utah and faculty from Southern Utah University to visit places like Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. This trip will cost $1,600 which includes, food, lodging and transportation. If the desert southwest doesn't sound appealing you may want to join Dr. Gary Senn on his Ecology of New England trip in June. What better way to spend your summer than exploring our country with your colleagues!
Annual Wish List
As has become a tradition with me for the December Newsletter here is my wish list as we enter a new century.
I wish that:
My wish list can go on forever, but let me end by wishing you a happy and safe holiday season. I'll see you in the next century!
December '99 Newsletter Index
RPSEC Newsletter Index
Copyright © 1999 by the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.
URL: http://rpsec.usca.edu/newsletter/Dec99/index.html (December, 1999)
Ruth Patrick Science Education
Center of Excellence in Educational Technology
University of South Carolina Aiken
471 University Parkway
Aiken, SC 29801