Teachers go to school at district's Summer Institute

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comJune 20, 2012 

The first day of summer was also the first day of the Beaufort County School District's Summer Institute. More than 900 teachers, both from the district and from other areas, are participating in three days of professional development workshops, many of which focus on STEM education -- science, technology, engineering and math. Here, district superintendent Valerie Truesdale addresses the institute's opening general session in the Battery Creek High School auditorium on Wednesday morning.

JAY KARR

It's sort of like summer camp for teachers, but without the bonfire.

The Beaufort County School District kicked off its fifth annual Summer Institute on Wednesday at Battery Creek High School, where for three days teachers can attend some of the 120 workshops on lesson ideas, technology tips or curriculum updates.

Several teachers said they have come each year for the variety of classes.

"This is a way to learn what I want to learn about," Beaufort Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Aracely Johnson said. "Throughout the year (the district) offers professional development. But not everyone gets professional development on horseshoe crabs."Johnson and other teachers learned the ins and outs of raising horseshoe crabs as part of a program through the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island.

About 20 teachers across the district will participate in the project, which teaches students to care for the crabs and focuses on the crabs' role in the environment. When the crabs have grown for a year, the students will release them into the wild.

"This is something that is hands-on," Johnson said. "It's authentic and real, and it's right in the classroom."

More than 900 teachers -- including 100 who don't work for the district and paid $50 to attend -- attended Wednesday's session.

Many of this year's workshops emphasize science, technology and math education. Several offered tips on infusing science and math lessons into other courses, such as art or music.

For example, Alana Adams with the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on Hilton Head Island led a workshop on affordable art lessons that incorporate geometry and symmetry through printmaking techniques.

Clare Guerrero, who teaches special education at Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts Elementary School, said she likely would teach her students about symmetry using Adams' suggestion of printmaking with fruits and vegetables.

"Normally we use pictures, but this will make it more hands-on for them," Guerrero said.

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