PRS in Houston


Pike Road teachers have no problems in Houston

Paul Sullivan, Montgomery Advertiser Published 9:46 p.m. CT July 9, 2017 | Updated 9:46 p.m. CT July 9, 2017

Three Pike Road Schools teachers were among only five from Alabama who will be taking what they gained at a science academy in Texas back to the classroom.

Renee Dickerson, Maria Franco, and Cyndal Whiten were chosen to take part in the American Geosciences Institute/ExxonMobil STEM and Geoscience Teacher Leadership Academy for K-5 teachers. The gathering was held in Houston.

All say the conference will help them as they teach students in the Pike Road system. The prestigious conference is in its ninth year.

“This learning opportunity was the best I have attended in my 11 years of teaching. As I listened to different professionals from ExxonMobil I learned that there are so many things that I still have left to learn. Learning truly never ends,” Dickerson said. “As educators, we need to let our learners become geologists to find out more about the past, or become historians who dig deeper to determine the future. Many of these professionals had a teacher to thank for opening the door of interest and excitement, which was humbling to think of the impact we have on the future.”

Dickerson said the group heard the latest in the field from geoscientists, chemical and mechanical engineers, and geologists as they talked about the importance of pushing students to learn.

“As the next school year starts we plan to implement many of these new lessons and activities with our students to peek their interest of geoscience. We now have a network of teachers across nine other states that we will be collaborating with to make it a wide open field of learning. We hope to make this excitement contagious,” Dickerson said.

Whiten said the conference helped her realize the career opportunities that exist for her students in the sciences. She will be sharing that information with her classes.

“I plan to expose my students to the many science careers that are out there. I learned new ways to engage them in activities that are hands-on that will allow them to experience learning earth science and geoscience. A lot of our students might not have been exposed to the many opportunities and careers out there, and it is my job to teach them to dream big, and give them that knowledge and hope,” she said.

As fitting for an ExxonMobil sponsored gathering, Whiten said the group saw how oil was gathered, and where it came from across the world.

“We explored the labs and saw the tools they use. We also saw actual samples of oil when it comes out of a rock, and learn about various places around the world that have oil. I feel like I learned things that I would have never learned, had I not attended the Academy, about science and the oil industry,” Whiten said.

The conference is designed to deepen the understanding of math and science concepts in the areas of data and statistics, measurement, and force and motion.

Dickerson said the opportunity to spend a week at the large international oil and gas company was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“I was reminded of how important my job as an educator is and how PRS is the future of education. We listened to professionals who are making four times as much as a teacher, however, they had a teacher to thank for their love of learning,” she said. “We have to ‘be the change,’ in education and allow the excitement of learning new things in different ways be the new norm.”

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