Thursday, April 17, 2014

A teacher academy in Providence

EDUCATION THURSDAY

Gráinne Lanigan
Education Specialist
Last year we were very delighted to receive the news that we had been selected as a national recipient for NOAA's Bay Watershed Education andTraining (BWET) funding. The funding would allow us to work with 20 fourth-grade teachers from the Providence School District through our professional development program, Project Narragansett- Providence Schools Edition

The teachers were able to participate in our four-day Teacher Academy last August where they combined their training with two fully funded field experiences with their students. This unique professional development program allows the students to directly experience the same learning activities their teachers have.  

The Teacher Academy participants were exposed to an in-depth water quality analysis with Dave Murray from Brown University. Together, they analyzed the complex ecosystem of the salt marsh and studied the challenges that salt marshes currently face. They also studied the sediments of the benthic zone, dissected a squid, and trawled in different areas of the Bay to compare and contrast biodiversity. 

As program coordinator, I was humbled by an evaluation we received from Bridget Richardson, a fourth-grade teacher at Young & Woods Elementary School:
"In my 13 years teaching in Providence, this was the best professional development I've ever been involved in. The instruction we received has given me the confidence to teach my students more about where we live and all of the amazing things going on around us."
Last month, we reconvened for the Teachers In Action Showcase, an opportunity for the teachers to showcase the hard work they had put into connecting their students to Narragansett Bay and their classroom curriculum.  

Over 100 people came out to support these wonderful teachers, including school principals, members of the Providence Public School District, Save The Bay staff and board members, parents, and students. They were all excited to see their teachers shine, and the teachers, of course, outdid themselves. There was a water cycle demonstration, informative poster presentations of Bay marine life, a project that examined the historical aspects of Narragansett Bay, and even a giant squid model that now proudly hangs in one of our classrooms. 

The event was a showcase of the amazingly talented teachers we are fortunate to have in Rhode Island. These educators constantly go above and beyond the call of duty to create exciting learning experiences for their students. I am so very proud to be working with teachers from this year's Project Narragansett - Providence Edition, and I can only image what the next two years will bring!

- Gráinne