Newsclippings and Press Releases
Education becomes vital and meaningful when it corresponds to the reality around it, when students are able to use the skills they learn to directly fill needs in the community. We applaud the recent efforts of our two local institutions of higher learning - Imperial Valle College and San Diego State University, Imperial Valley Campus - to align their curriculum more closely to the needs of the Imperial Valley. By doing so they reaffirm their role as uplifters of both our students and our community.
Officials at IVC have announced plans for a reformulated agriculture program in an effort to energize a lackluster department. The Imperial Valley owes much its existence to agriculture -- it is a billion- dollar industry that is literally the lifeblood of the Valley's economy. To have a situation in which our community college offers only two agriculture courses is unacceptable.
To remedy this sorry state, IVC is looking to local growers to find out what specific training and courses are needed. We couldn't think of a more practical approach. The school hopes to begin offering the newly tooled courses in the fall 1999 semester.
The courses will yield at least two benefits: students will gain skills that will be immediately applicable after graduation and the farming community will gain a pool of skilled workers they can plug into existing needs.
Meanwhile SDSU-IV has recently created a master's program to give training to local teachers involved with the highly successful Valle Imperial Project in Science, or VIPS Science program. Thirty area elementary school teachers will use the program to hone their own science knowledge and gain expertise in the hands-on, inquiry-based approach to teaching science that VIPS is all about. Those 30 teachers will then become a leadership vanguard in the Valley, able to pass on what they've learned to other teachers.
SDSU-IV's initiative in pursuing grant funds and setting up the master's program displays a real commitment to becoming a partner in the life of the community, not just a bystander watching from a distance.
We only hope to see more programs like these in the future and that IVC and SDSU-IV will continue to search for more ways to become integral and vibrant parts of our communities.
The message IVC and SDSU-IV are sending the Imperial Valley is one of which we should all take heed: We're all in this together.
Reproduced with permission from the Imperial Valley Press. Originally published 2/1/99.
CALEXICO - San Diego State University's Imperial Valley Campus has announced the creation of a new master's degree program in science education that is being hailed by local education officials as a vital component in the El Centro (elementary) School District's nationally recognized Valle Imperial Project in Science, or VIPS.
Earlier this month SDSU/IV received a $372,128 grant from the federally funded Eisenhower Project to help pay for the three-year Science Teacher Academy and Master's Program, or STAMP, which will provide working teachers with an intensive training in VIPS methodology they will be expected to impart to other teachers in the Valley.
"The program will increase teacher content knowledge and further develop teacher experience in the area of inquiry-based science," said SDSU/IV coordinator of teacher education Leslie Garrison.
"It will further the training for a select group which will become a teacher training cadre for the Valley."
Garrison said the 30 participants for the program -- from 15 schools in Holtville, El Centro, Calexico, Seeley, Imperial and Brawley - have just been selected and will begin classes March 30.
Originally based on a model begun in Mesa, Ariz., and further developed by Caltech and the Pasadena Unified School District 13 years ago, VIPS makes science something students do and experiences opposed to simply learning through books.
For example, sixth -grade students study the concept of variables by conducting experiments with plants. Studying the effects of light, heat, water and fertilizer on plant growth, students not only learn about plant life but about how variables function.
Subjects are broken down into four eight-to-ten week units at each grade level. Each unit comes with its own kit filled with hands-on exercises and experiments designed to guide students through the subject matter. The kits, which are rotated among the classes at the different schools, include periodic testing to make sure students are ready to move on to the next unit.
The master's program will "help teachers doing the kits to learn more about the science behind the kits," said Garrison, adding science is not traditionally a major part of undergraduate training for teachers.
VIPS began at the El Centro (elementary) School District three years ago and has since gone countrywide thanks to $3.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The program has garnered national and international attention for its work in teacher training and developing VIPS methodology.
ECSD Superintendent Michael Klentschy, a driving force behind VIPS, called the creation of the master's program an important step in developing a self-sustaining leadership pool of VIPS teachers.
"That's the key ingredient in any reform effort," he said.
The master's program is not the first partnership between VIPS and SDSU/IV. This was the first year of classes for students studying to become teachers in the VIPS approach to teaching science, and next school year will see the entrance of that first generation of intensively trained teachers into Imperial Valley classrooms.
"The SDSU teacher education program is on the cutting edge by providing a focused approach to teacher leadership in this community," Klentschy said.
The grant money, administered by the California Post Secondary Education Commission, will help defray the cost of professors over the summer, reduce the cost of tuition for summer classes, build SDSU science resources and fund summer retreats for teachers to such places as the Wild Animal Park in San Diego, where teachers will study zoology.