According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in their study titled Teacher Quality: A Report on The Preparation and Qualifications of Public School Teachers, it is stated that, “in order to meet the changing demands of their jobs, high-quality teachers must be capable and willing to continuously learn and relearn their trade. Professional development and collaboration with other teachers are strategies for building educators’ capacity for effective teaching, particularly in a profession where demands are changing and expanding.” The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) Skylab Innovation Center and Polk County Public Schools teamed up to meet this demand for professional learning!
On September 21, over 60 teachers in the Polk County district came to ACE Skylab Innovation Center, where Jeff Hancock, Senior Director-Science and Social Studies, along with 4 other professional development specialists prepared a day of exciting field experience lessons. Attendees were able to hear President/CEO, John “Lites” Leenhouts speak about ACE as an aviation education ecosystem where the sky is just the beginning. Robin-Denise Kirk, ACE’s Dean of Academic Affairs & Museum Sciences spoke about the future AeroSTEM and Aviation Gingerbread competition currently available to enter. As a whole group, teachers and coaches garnered valuable information from this for the schools they represent.
Shortly after 9:00 am, attendees were broken up into 2 groups, where facilitators were able to present leadership skills and planning opportunities. The first group was made up of 28 teacher leaders from a variety of Polk County district schools, that teamed up with Cheryl Fogel. Cheryl Fogel, a Polk County Public Schools Curriculum Specialist, states, “We had our first Teacher Leader Cadre’ meeting at the SkyLab Innovation Center. It is a beautiful, spacious facility, with amazing technology that supported our training. They even had Huntington Learning Center, a business partner, sponsor a delicious lunch from Fuzzy Taco’s for our participants. We had an amazing day and were definitely spoiled with lunch!”
Group two consisted of school-based science coaches, as well as some of the district-based science coaching team. This group, would have an action-packed day! Jeff Hancock states, “Skylab was an incredible host for our coach and TLC meetings. The venue had ample space, incredible service, and it was clear that STEM was promoted as a way of work.”
The Aerospace Center For Excellence is proud to partner with Polk County Public Schools for two more opportunities of professional development on October 26th, and November 30th. “Seeing the teachers coming in the morning, excited, and ready to learn just warms my heart. I hope to be one of those types of teachers one day, excited and motivated to help the next generation”, states Elizabeth Jilbert, a Skylab Intern from Polk State College.