First class of teacher LEADERS to be announced

June 7, 2010 | News, UToday
By Meghan Cunningham



A dozen teachers from Toledo Public Schools and the Catholic Diocese of Toledo will go back to school this summer to study the latest in alternative energy and learn creative ways to teach their students about the growing industry.

The teachers, along with a couple principals and administrators, make up the first class to participate in the federally funded research program Leadership for Educators: Academy for Driving Economic Revitalization in Science, or LEADERS.

The participants, who will be announced at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 9, at the Imagination Station, begin their courses Monday, June 14.

The goal of the LEADERS partnership, which is funded by a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, is to improve K-12 science education with Project-Based Science linked to the alternative energy and the environment. The program will help better prepare students for these future careers and help assist northwest Ohio’s economic transition from the automobile industry to renewable energies.

“Project-Based Science makes the learning relevant and interesting to students,” said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, UT professor of curriculum and instruction and a co-investigator on the grant. “It is a way of organizing the curriculum around relevant topics such as ‘Is northwest Ohio a sustainable region?’ And then teaching about the environment, geography, climate and more around that question.”

The teachers will take courses with scientists and professors at The University of Toledo in areas of physics, chemistry, environmental science, engineering and education that will give them more content expertise and ways to better relate the information to their students.

Upon returning to their districts, the participants will be teacher leaders, working to educate their colleagues in the new materials so the whole district benefits.

The participants will take two and a half summers of courses through the program, receiving upon completion a master’s degree in arts and education. A second class of teachers from Akron City Schools and Monroe County Intermediate School district will begin their courses in 2012.

It’s estimated that by its conclusion, 86,000 K-12 students will benefit from the LEADERS program.

“As our energy economy changes, students will need to know about the new types of energies available and how they fit into our energy use as a society,” said Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, UT professor of geography, who also is a co-investigator on the project. “In addition, we hope that this project sparks the interest in students to seek careers in renewable energy. They are the innovators of the future.”