Emily Shade, a teacher at Walter F. Robinson School, was so impressed with what she got out of the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy last year that when she became administrator to the program this year, she made a point of signing herself up for the camp again.
Since launching in 2005, more than 2,600 teachers have attended the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, impacting more than 40,000 students nationwide with the lessons and skills they learned.
Shade was a rarity because as a seventh grade teacher, she got to go back when the program is generally geared for lower elementary grades. Teachers are generally chosen from those areas where the PGA holds golf tournaments or where ExxonMobil maintains significant operations. These lucky teachers got to attend the New Orleans or Houston Academy, which offers advanced training in mathematics and science instruction.
“They treat you like a superstar.” – Emily Shade
Phil and Amy Mickelson partnered with ExxonMobil about seven years ago to launch an innovative program to help elementary school teachers improve their instruction in math and science and thereby increase student interest and achievement in these disciplines. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 30 percent of college freshmen have to take remedial math and science courses because they are not prepared for college-level classes.
“The Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy enables us to provide today’s teachers with inventive tools to encourage students in math and science and open their eyes to the fun in these important subjects,” said Suzanne McCarron, president, ExxonMobil Foundation. “We are pleased to make this educational program available to teachers from Bayonne so they can return to their classrooms armed with creative methods to develop the next generation of innovators.”
Shade joined Mary Susan Stevenson, Fallon Kaczka, Patricia Niland, Meghan Campbell, Jacqueline Sinclair Lewis, also of Walter F. Robinson School; Sara Van Splinter and Nora Ruane, of Woodrow Wilson Elementary School; Jennifer A. Circkirillo, of Horace Mann Elementary School; and Erin Cook, of Nicholas Oresko School; for a total of 200 teachers from around the county gathered at camp in New Orleans to get new ways of teaching math and science.
Math and science lead to some of the most in-demand careers
Careers from medicine to energy demand a foundation in math and science. However, the number of young people prepared to enter these professions is decreasing.
“Math and science are all around us, including in my golf game,” said Mickelson. “I believe in the importance of inspiring our nation’s children in these critical areas. Working with ExxonMobil, we designed the Academy to be an exciting learning experience that will provide Bayonne teachers with tools to support students in math and science and an opportunity to share best practices with colleagues.”
Shade said she had heard about it prior to going last year, with other teachers telling her about the amazing experiences they had – and it was true, she said.
“They treat you like a superstar,” she said.
The workshops, she said, are designed to excite the teachers’ imagination.
“These were hands-on workshops,” she said. “They didn’t just lecture.”
The event was five and half days long.
“We got in on Thursday, had dinner and a welcoming reception, and then we had five days of classes,” Shade said.
A seventh grade math teacher, Shade said she had used a lot of the activities in her classes the last time, and expects to bring to the classroom in September even more as a result of this year’s trip.
She said she and other Bayonne teachers from the trip plan to meet once a month to plan out strategies and lessons.
Although she went to the event with other teachers from Bayonne, she did not spend the five days with them.
“They deliberately separate you from the teachers you come with to force you out of your comfort zone,” she said.
One of the most valuable lessons came from the way the workshops worked, rather than what they contained. She learned what it felt like to be one of her students, and took to heart the fact that she couldn’t just speak at her students, but had to somehow engage them the way they engaged her at the camp.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.