The Value of the TRC
The TRC has a 22 year track record providing cost-effective, sustained, and high intensity professional development to P-12 teachers of science and mathematics across the state of Texas. The TRC program and it’s member teachers have shown themselves to be a valuable asset at a time when STEM education is more important than ever.
Progress for a Purpose
Texas Regional Collaborative’s June 2016 Annual Meeting brought more than 600 Texas STEM educators to Austin to share new teaching methods, showcase technological advances and recognize those who further progress for a purpose. That purpose of teaching tomorrow’s technology leaders today allows Texas to lead the nation in innovative STEM education for its students. The accomplishments K-12 schoolchildren will make in the future begins in the classrooms of today through the ingenuity and dedication of teachers.
Investing in the purpose to keep Texas STEM graduates progressing to the future were supported by special guest speakers at the TRC event: Honorable State Representative Jason Isaac from District 45, serving Blanco and Hays counties; Texas Education Agency’s new Deputy Commissioner of Academics Penny Schwinn, PhD.; TEA Program Manager Stacey Avery; and Carol Fletcher, Ph.D., deputy director of the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for STEM Education. Receiving support and recognition by these effective Texas leaders added to the momentum and motivation for the dedicated teachers in attendance.
We are the TRC!
Texas Regional Collaboratives’ (TRC) 22nd Annual Meeting in Austin June 21-23 was educational, enlightening, and exciting for the more than 600 participants. Beyond the expert speakers, informative sessions, and networking opportunities, the spirit of the combined Collaboratives built to a crescendo at the closing luncheon. Like any good pep rally, the TRC 22nd Annual Meeting ended with the crowd, led by Galveston County Regional Science Collaborative’s own Dazzling Divas of STEM, chanting, “We are the TRC!” –Continue reading
“I am hopeful and optimistic about our future being so bright in Texas because I have been learning from educators this week about their efforts to help students,” said Rep. Isaac. “My own sons attend public school in Drippings Springs, so the issues are important to my wife and I. And in the Legislature, I assure you we all are genuinely interested in what we can do in this state to help students.” Rep. Isaac talked about the growth of Texas energy and its role in helping to promote more funds for education. “In the upcoming 85th Legislative Session, the emphasis will be on earth sciences and energy. By adding that curriculum, Texas students can fill and create jobs for future opportunities that are limitless.”
TEA’s Penny Schwinn reported, “There is high global demand for skilled STEM and computer science (CS) experts. In the U.S. alone, there will be 1.4 million computing-relating jobs opening by 2020. But at the rate we are going, we will only be able to fill 30% of those jobs.” She continued, “A Georgetown University report said, the Texas economy alone, will need 715,000 more STEM-related jobs by 2018. That’s 5% of our state’s economy. And that number is only going to grow with more industries moving here to Texas.”
Schwinn emphasized, “We don’t want our best jobs to go to students who are not Texas graduates. We need the jobs to stay here. We have to have more students who are invested in CS and STEM who are able to build in those areas of our economy.”
Schwinn commented that the work the TRC is doing is truly incredible and that it reflects the priorities of TEA for improving Texas students in competition, research, increasing opportunities and education in training.
Telling Our Story
During the TRC 21st Annual Meeting in 2015, Math and Science teachers from across Texas shared their stories about the impact the TRC has had on their careers and on their classrooms.
“We are here today because it will take all of us for this type of progress,” Schwinn said. “It will take policy makers, business leaders, educators, community leaders, and higher education to make this kind of progress. We have to make STEM exciting in our schools, we need to support it in our communities and programs, and we have to fund it in our government. We need to clearly communicate there is a purpose to the work we are doing. We need to make sure the students understand that what they do in these classes has purpose and that many of the challenges we face in our country and economy are solved through these fields. We have to allocate the funds to continue the incredible work being done here. I hear about the results every day and it’s truly unbelievable and it’s not happening anywhere else in the country – TRC is really leading the charge there!”
Schwinn applauded TRC for getting teachers excited about CS certification; building pathways from middle school to high school to higher education to careers; Creating partnerships with national and international partners, and more. She said the results of all the work is impressive, important and has impacted millions of Texas students for the past 22 years. She added, “We at TEA want to continue supporting the work you are doing to help unlock students’ sense of promise. Every child deserves a champion.”
Stacy Avery, TEA’s project manager working with the TRC echoed Schwinn’s remarks about the vision TEA has to advocate for continued funding and more ways to help encourage the next generation.
WeTeach_CS Takes on CS Teacher Shortage
In 2016, the Center for STEM Education, seeing the need for more focus on Computer Science, spun off the TRC CS Network into WeTeach_CS. Following the TRC’s lead, the new program is focused on teachers with a mission to support CS teachers through professional development. This program also helps Texas teachers obtain CS certification, through test preparation and incentives. –Learn more
“It is important to recognize that Texas has created the premier STEM teacher professional development network because of the visionary leadership of the TEA,” said Fletcher. “We especially appreciate the support of those who joined us at our event today: Deputy Commissioner of Academics Penny Schwinn; Program Manager Stacy Avery; Irene Pickhardt, statewide science coordinator; James Slack, statewide mathematics coordinator, and Jo Ann Bilderback, CTE program coordinator.”
Fletcher continued, “I cannot overstate how important the support of TEA has been to the development and nurturing of the TRC statewide network for so many years. Every time I go to a national conference and try to explain this amazing network that we have in Texas, people are shocked. It truly is one of a kind and it is because TEA has wisely chosen to use federal funds in a coordinated manner,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher added appreciation for all the TRC Project Directors and Education Service Centers for their continuing commitment. “TRC has served more than 8,000 teachers who work at 1,970 campuses in 732 public, private, or charter school districts. These educators are impacting over half a million Texas students this year alone. TRC educators span the spectrum from Pre-K to high school and work in the largest to the smallest districts in the state. There is no other organization in the country that can compare in size or scope to what Texas has built over the past 20+ years through the TRC. And even better, next year, we will be adding new Math Regional Collaboratives to the TRC Family — kicking up the total to 62 Collaboratives working with new higher education entities such as Rice University, UTD, UTMB, TAMU and OLLU.”
The Texas Regional Collaboratives is a program of the Center for STEM Education at The University of Texas at Austin, which provides support for, and fosters collaboration among, researchers interested in conducting externally-funded interdisciplinary research on STEM teaching and learning, the conditions that influence it, and innovations that can maximize it. The Center for STEM Education also provides professional development for STEM teachers in Texas schools.