Baylor School of Education Faculty Collaboration with Waco ISD Wins National Award

  • SSMA Award
    Along with their Waco ISD collaborators, Baylor School of Education faculty members Suzanne Nesmith, Ph.D., and Sandi Cooper, Ph.D., received the Award for Excellence in Integrating Science and Mathematics from the School Science and Mathematics Association for their work highlighting STEM use in two Waco ISD elementary schools. (Photo by Cameron Bocanegra)
  • SSMA Award2
    Suzanne Nesmith, Ph.D., associate dean and associate professor of science education in the Baylor School of Education, held professional development sessions with teachers at Waco ISD PDS campuses Mountainview Elementary and Bell's Hill Elementary, both of which are STEM-focused. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
  • SSMA Award3
    Baylor School of Education faculty members held professional development sessions for teachers at Waco ISD PDS campuses Mountainview Elementary and Bell's Hill Elementary, both of which are STEM-focused. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
  • SSMA Award4
    Baylor School of Education faculty members held professional development sessions for teachers at Waco ISD PDS campuses Mountainview Elementary and Bell's Hill Elementary, both of which are STEM-focused. (Meg Cullar/Baylor School of Education)
Nov. 29, 2018

Contact: Meg Cullar, School of Education, 254-710-6435
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by Cameron Bocanegra, student communications assistant, Baylor School of Education

WACO, Texas (Nov. 29, 2018) – The School Science and Mathematics Association has awarded the Baylor University School of Education and Waco ISD collaborators the Award for Excellence in Integrating Science and Mathematics for highlighting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) use in two Waco ISD elementary schools. They received the award at the SSMA convention in October.

Sandi Cooper, Ph.D., professor of mathematics education, and Suzanne Nesmith, Ph.D., associate dean and associate professor of science education in curriculum and instruction, approached the principals of Mountainview Elementary and Bell’s Hill Elementary with the idea of working with a small group of teachers to learn the importance of STEM for early learners. The schools wanted to take it a step further and include every teacher on both campuses.

“We realized this could not be a one-shot situation,” Nesmith said. “This experience needed to help teachers grow as, together, they explored and discussed the importance of STEM. We wanted them engaging with each other and learning how to integrate STEM in their own classroom, the entire school and Waco.”

For the past two years, Nesmith and Cooper have held three to four professional development sessions each year with more than 80 teachers and administrators joining them. Also in attendance were School of Education student teacher interns, who are seniors in the teacher education program and assigned to teach in these schools. The teachers and future teachers learned strategies to integrate STEM into everyday teaching, while also becoming well versed and capable of supporting their students in the subject.

“We really wanted to make better connections with the teachers on campuses where our SOE students teach,” Cooper said. “We have worked with teachers for several years to support math and science learning in the classroom, but when we designated these Professional Development School (PDS) campuses as STEM-focused, it opened the door for bigger possibilities.”

Students, teachers and parents responded well, Cooper said. Motivated by their experiences, campuses planned special events like STEM Family Night and created a Makerspace to give students opportunities to explore, create and invent.

“It’s an honor to be recognized at the national level,” Cooper said. “We were invited to give a presentation about this partnership at the conference, so participants were able to learn more about the organization of the professional development and how we navigated the process. It was exciting to share this integration with others.”

Founded in 1901, the School Science and Mathematics Association strives to be an inclusive professional community bringing together researchers and teachers to promote research, scholarship and practice to improve school science and mathematics and to advance the integration of school science and mathematics.

“This award is humbling and gratifying,” Nesmith said. “To see what we have helped create on the campuses makes it all worthwhile. It’s the relationships we’ve built with teachers, and the fact that they can reach out to us for ideas or resources. It has created even stronger experiences for the Baylor School of Education students we send there and most of all for the children.”

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

ABOUT THE BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

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