RAFT Collaborates With New Teacher Center on Science-Focused Professional Development Program for Bay Area Teachers

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Texas Instruments and Tech CU Support new Middle School NGSS Leadership Alliance Program

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We have a specific emphasis on programs that reach under-represented students, especially girls, African Americans and Hispanics. This grant fit those criteria perfectly.

Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) has partnered with New Teacher Center (NTC) to strengthen science education in the Bay Area by creating a professional development program for lead teachers in the Evergreen, Franklin-McKinley, Mt. Pleasant, and Oak Grove School Districts, all part of San Jose’s East Side Alliance.

This new Middle School Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Leadership Alliance program will support 25 middle-school science “Teacher Leaders” in strengthening their leadership skills and building their confidence in using hands-on learning in science classrooms.

The program results from a three-year collaboration between RAFT and NTC, both educational organizations, which merges their expertise and experience to support teachers and students. The 25 Teacher Leaders will receive ongoing leadership training and practical hands-on experience in implementing the NGSS. By the third year, RAFT and NTC will have worked with and trained four leads from the program participants to develop and maintain lab classrooms, which will be model centers of hands-on science teaching, ultimately impacting every middle-school science teacher and student in the four districts.

“We’re very excited to work together, RAFT brings their knowledge of hands-on education, and NTC brings our expertise in accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers and school leaders. These two assets will create a great program that’s really going to strengthen science education in participating districts,” says Kevin Drinkard, Senior Program Consultant at NTC.

The Middle School NGSS Leadership Alliance is being supported by Texas Instruments (TI), who initiated multi-year funding for this partnership, and Tech CU who recently added their contribution to fund the first-year of the program. Through their support, TI and Tech CU are demonstrating their commitment to critical science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in underserved communities.

“Teacher effectiveness in STEM is the primary focus of our philanthropic efforts,” says Andy Smith, Director of Corporate Philanthropy for Texas Instruments. “We look for programs that have support from school districts, have proven, measureable results and strong collaborations. Also, we have a specific emphasis on programs that reach under-represented students, especially girls, African Americans and Hispanics. This grant fit those criteria perfectly. We’re excited about the program’s potential to reach all middle school science teachers and students in the four districts and look forward to seeing results.”

RAFT was founded in 1994 and was created around the idea that students learn best when they are active in the learning process. Hands-on learning has proven to deliver a richer, deeper understanding to students, especially in STEM subjects.

“We love this unique approach to STEM education,” says Tech CU’s VP of Community and Government Relations, Janikke Klem. “Science is one of those subjects that comes alive for kids when they are truly engaged — and who better to engage them than the teachers in the classroom. This is why it’s so important to support our teachers with both resources and training to improve learning in the classroom.”

About RAFT
RAFT believes the best way to spark the love of learning for the next generation of thinkers, innovators, problem-solvers, and creators, is through hands-on learning. A nonprofit organization since 1994, RAFT serves 12,000 educators each year who teach over 900,000 students. Find out more about RAFT and how to get involved at http://www.raft.net.

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Brittany Coleman
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