I hope everyone had a restful and productive summer. As usual, we were busy with a number of courses and camps, as well as preparing for the 1997-98 academic school year. I read an article in a science journal recently that gave credence to the old adage that "time flies when you get older". According to this article, your body produces a chemical that tends to make time seem slower when you are younger and faster when you get older. If that is the case, my body must be working overtime to produce this chemical because in a blink of an eye, the summer has already passed and we are four weeks into the new school year.
Over the summer we have had a number of new and exciting things happen that will hopefully benefit all educators within our region and statewide. First, thanks to the hard work of our local legislative delegation, the State passed a bond bill which contained $2.5 million earmarked for the construction of the RPSEC addition. We have selected an architect and hope to start construction sometime during the spring of 1998. The architects estimate that construction will take about 12 months, therefore, the new addition should be completed in time for the 1999-2000 academic school year! I hope that in the December newsletter we can give you a glimpse of the design for the new building.
Second, Dr. Gary Senn received a grant for a Center of Excellence in Educational Technology from the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education. Through this grant Dr. Senn and his staff will be helping pre-service teachers, inservice teachers and higher ed faculty from throughout the state to incorporate educational technology into their classrooms. Through this grant we have hired Mr. John Hutchens, a former teacher from Richmond County, to be a technology specialist for the Center. When you come by the Center, please introduce yourself to John and welcome him to our family.
In addition to John, we have a "new" administrative assistant for the Hub, Ms. Cindy Sparling. Although she is new to the Center, she has worked for the university for 20 years. Her experience will be invaluable to the Center. Please make her feel welcome to the RPSEC family.
The Natural Resources Science, Mathematics, Engineering Education Program is at full staff again. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, Mr. Norm Rischbieter took over as Director of NRSMEEP. Taking his place as Education Specialist is Mr. Jody Childs, formerly a science teacher at Silver Bluff High School. Being an outdoor enthusiast, Jody will be an asset to that program.
Although we have added some new members to our staff, regretfully I must announce that Ms. Janet Watkins, our science specialist for the CSRA Hub, returned to the classroom this year. Our loss is Allendale-Fairfax High School's gain. Janet returns to her former position at that school. We wish Janet the best and thank her for all she did for us in her three years here at the Hub.
Finally, I must thank Dr. Linda Eldridge for agreeing to become the next chair of the RPSEC/CSRA Hub Advisory Board. The advisory board helps the Hub set direction and monitors its progress towards reaching its goals. When problems crop up it is the Advisory Board, and in particular the executive committee, that I call upon for help and advice.
Other items and issues of note:
This past year has been a challenging one for teachers in the classroom. We have heard from numerous teachers from throughout the region (as well as the state) that the new textbooks in mathematics and science are different from ones used in the past. The reason for this is that the new textbooks should be aligned with the South Carolina Science and Mathematics Frameworks and Standards. We have tried to reach as many schools and teachers as possible over the past few years to prepare them for the changes we knew were coming. We will continue to do so this year.
In the spring of 1998, the new mathematics test that will take the place of BSAP, will be piloted. Many of you helped pilot the initial round of test questions this past year. The new test will adhere to the South Carolina Math Framework and Academic Achievement Standards. Coming this fall will be the Mathematics and Science indicators that will provide more guidance as to what is expected from each child by the end of each grade. We will keep you posted regarding the new tests and indicators as the year goes on.
Teachers in Aiken and Edgefield Counties, will have a jump on other teachers from throughout the state because new science and mathematics curriculum guides that match the state standards should be completed by the end of this school year. This past year teachers from Edgefield County wrote their mathematics curriculum guide (a draft of which should be in teachers hands by now) and this past summer, teachers from Aiken County wrote a new science curriculum guide (a draft of which should be in teachers hands by now). This upcoming year, Edgefield will be working on their science curriculum guide and Aiken will be working on their mathematics curriculum guide. These materials should provide further guidance for teachers in teaching science and mathematics.
Finally, to make a long column longer, many people have asked how Hawaii was this summer. It was terrible!!! It was sunny most every day. The hottest it got was 85 degrees. We hiked through rain forests. We snorkeled coral reefs. We got within 100 feet of lava flowing into the ocean. We were drenched by 100 foot water falls and walked on green and black sand beaches. It was a sacrifice for the eight of us who went, but somebody had to do it!!! Next summer we will try to tackle Africa!!!
Until our next newsletter, I hope you have a happy, safe and productive school year. Please let us know how we can help make your school year run smoother. Until then, mahalo and aloha!