Ansonia High School teacher Rebeca Seibert was all set to unveil a lesson on kinetic energy last week to the students in her advanced placement chemistry class.
Then she decided to run her plan by her mentor, a chemistry teacher at Rockville High School in Vernon.
Seibert, a teacher in Ansonia for three years, shared the plans using an online forum they both share.
Elizabeth Barr, her online mentor, suggested another way to teach the lesson. Seibert did just that — and the science department head in Ansonia saw the lesson in action.
Now the lesson plan is part of the advance placement chemistry curriculum at Ansonia High School.
And that scenario shows just how the National Science Teachers Association’s “New Science Teacher Academy” is supposed to work.
Seibert was one of just 240 science teachers across the U.S. accepted into the yearlong program, which pairs new science teachers with more experienced instructors.
“It’s open to new science educators that have been in the field for three years or less and are looking for new ways to broaden their methods of teaching science,” said Damaries Blondonville, the assistant director of professional development programs at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).
The idea is to retain new teachers, train them and bolster science instruction in the U.S.
We need it.
In December, The New York Times reported that U.S. students were still lagging in math and science.
In an effort to close the gap, last year President Barack Obama called for Congress to spend $1 billion for an initiative to improve “STEM” learning — that is, science, technology, engineering and math.
Seibert, meanwhile, was accepted to the fellowship in September.
The arrangement pairs her with mentor and gives her access to instructional podcasts along with online instructional programs. She remains in the classroom in Ansonia — no time is lost, other than when she attends the 2013 National Conference on Science Education, scheduled to be held in Texas.
Along with online mentoring, Seibert said new science programs are introduced throughout the month to the fellows, whether through Powerpoint presentations, videos or forums.
“There are different topics like STEM [science, technology, engineering and math], lab safety and classroom management, which are all helpful and important programs.”
If the fellowship program looks to inspire new teachers, it has a good subject in Seibert. She not the type of person to be complacent.
Teaching is Seibert’s second career. She worked in the private sector for 23 years. Her last job was at the Chemtura Corporation.
After so many years, she wanted to do something else.
“Am I making a difference?” she kept asking herself.
Seibert applied to the Alternative Route to Certification—a state program designed for people with bachelors and master’s degrees who want to switch careers and become teachers.
At Ansonia High School, Seibert teaches general science courses, chemistry and advanced placement chemistry.
She applied for the prestigious fellowship program on a lark last spring.
“I just figured why not, and applied.”
She also teaches at the University of New Haven as an adjunct professor of chemistry two nights a week.
“It’s such a varied contrast teaching science to many different age groups,” Seibert said. “I love that variety.”
Ansonia School District Superintendent, Carol Merlone said the school district is proud of Seibert and her work.
“She’s a phenomenal teacher and were excited to see what she will bring back to the students and her colleagues,” said Merlone
“There are a lot of talented students at Ansonia. I can go home saying I helped and made a difference,” Seibert said.