State Teacher Mentor Rick Frederic gathers with KPBSD teachers for special in-service.
Teachers throughout the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) use to come together several times a year for in-service days where they heard of new techniques and programs and shared successes and challenges in their classrooms. Due to budget cuts, there haven't been District wide in-service days for several years. Last week however, thanks to a Caring For The Kenai (CFK) program grant, former Nikiski High School science teacher Rick Frederic gathered with science teachers from six high schools across the KPBSD for an environmental education day. Frederic is now part of the new statewide teacher mentor program as a science specialist, "The key reason for the new mentor program is that we've found if we take time to help new teachers, they become a better teacher quicker and academic excellence improves in the classroom," said Frederic.
The Caring For The Kenai program began 15 years ago and challenges high school students to respond to the question, "What can I do, invent, or create to better care for the environment of the Kenai Peninsula, or to improve the area's preparedness for a natural disaster?" Sponsored by Unocal Alaska and Agrium through the Kenai Watershed Forum, the annual contest offers over $6,000 in cash prizes for student proposals that make it to the finals and $10,000 in cash awards for participating classrooms. "Interest in the CFK program has actually gone up over the years and kids that have had the program around all their lives now look forward to getting into high school and participating and seeing how well they can do with their ideas, and that's exciting," commented Frederic.
The CFK community partnership with local industry, state and local government, the school district, and numerous local businesses allows the kids to do science outside of the classroom, says Frederic, "It allows kids to work within their community and do problem solving on local issues. So when we look today at what curriculum is important in science education, it's taking the focus outside of the classroom and making science pertinent to the world we live in, and more importantly the world the students live in and will become shareholders in. Every year we are amazed at some of the ideas they come up with to improve our environment. In some cases their proposals go on to be funded and completed and in other cases they have won special awards from the President of the United States."
The teachers who participated in the workshop gave it high evaluation marks. Matt Winbigler, a first year science teacher at Kenai High School will be assigning the CFK assignment this year and felt the opportunity to meet other science teachers in the district and brainstorm ideas was very useful. To find out more about the 2005 Caring For The Kenai program go to www.caringforthekenai.com, and to see more about Rick Frederic's science teacher mentoring hit www.rfrederic.com.
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