Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MidAmerica Nazarene University assists Wyandotte County school districts

KANSAS CITY, KAN.,--This summer more than 40 teachers from Kansas City, Kansas School District and Turner School District learned new ways to prepare the next generation of students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills.

MNU’s Students Engaged in Exploring and Designing Solutions (SEEDS) project, funded by a Kansas Board of Regents grant, which includes both federal and non-federal funds, equips local science teachers from high needs school districts with the knowledge and skills necessary to help 6th through 12th grade students meet Next Generation Science Standards, which focus on the engineering design cycle and cross-disciplinary integration of science.

Since future industries will rely greatly on science, technology, math and engineering skills, educators need new methods to integrate these subjects into their teaching. According to Nancy Damron, PhD, MNU School of Education dean, the goal is to assist teachers to deliver instruction in a way that will prepare students for these industries after graduation.

Gayle Kebodeaux, a teacher in the Kansas City Kansas School District, said the SEEDS workshop was rewarding on several counts.

“It allowed me to delve into the new science standards as well as process this with colleagues, not only from my district but from other districts,” Kebodeaux said. “SEEDS gave us time to evaluate investigations that can be used in our classrooms. It provided [me] the opportunity for professional development that is applicable immediately for my students.”

One of the value-added aspects of the SEEDS program is MNU’s partnership with Garmin International engineers who also teach participants in the program. Real-world practitioners like Debbie Jasiczek, software engineering manager consumer software technology and Scott Burgett, director GNSS & automotive OEM platform engineering help ensure teachers get readily applicable learning.

Workshops held at MNU were free to the teachers and they received stipends for participation. They also will continue to receive resources throughout the year such as books for each participant, substitute teacher coverage allowing them to attend additional workshops at MNU, licenses for video analysis software in the classroom, and $500 per teacher for classroom supplies.

According to Damron, this program goes beyond bringing cutting edge instruction to participants but also gives them the real-world support they need to continue utilizing and expanding their new skills.

The SEEDS project will continue through June 2015 with additional workshops and ongoing dialog between participants. The next training session will be held at the KCK school district on Sept. 30. Ultimately, participants are expected to influence their students to understand and use better practices of science, technology, engineering and math while gaining a deeper understanding in the core of those subjects, all of which is needed in the new economy.

MNU has a 48-year history of preparing teachers and has offered the Master of Education for more than 20 years. More information on teacher education at MNU is at