GirlTECH Teachers Receive Local, National Attention


IndentTwo GirlTECH '95 participants, Steve Simmons and Stacey Baxter-Rienstra, have received local and national accolades for their efforts to bring technology into the classroom. Simmons and Rienstra, both teachers at Houston's Milby High School, first teamed up in 1995 when they attended the CRPC's GirlTECH teacher training program.

IndentSimmons and Rienstra credit GirlTECH and a related program, the Rice University School Mathematics Project, with inspiring them to add Internet and computer components to their efforts at Milby. That fall, they received GTE's Growth Initiatives for Teachers (GIFT) Grant, which they used to design the IM SMART project, a project to integrate mathematics and science into the freshman curriculum at Milby. Further support for the 1995-96 IM SMART project came from a Texas General Land Office/HEB Grocery Environmental Challenge grant acknowledging innovative educational projects that deal with conserving, protecting, or raising awareness about natural resources.

IndentAnother CRPC program, the Mathematical and Computational Sciences Awareness Workshop, lead by Rice University Professor Richard Tapia, further convinced them that they were on the right track in trying to interest Milby's predominantly Hispanic student population in mathematics and science. Simmons and Rienstra also credit fellow teachers Corey Bowyer, Mike Singleton, and Chris Wood with helping to integrate their Internet-oriented curriculum into Milby's English and history classes.

IndentSimmons was recently awarded a Toyota TAPESTRY Grant to continue the IM Smart program during the 1996-97 school year. This grant was one of 80 awarded in the Unites States. In addition, Northern Life presented Simmons with its Education's Unsung Heroes Award, which he will use to further expand the project into next year. Northern Life selected Simmons and two other teachers from among 980 nominees.

IndentRienstra is one of twelve math teachers who were selected to share their teaching techniques on Algebra On-Line, a Houston Independent School District (HISD)/RUSMP program scheduled to air on the HISD television channel. She was also selected to serve on a software selection committee for a district-wide Algebra 1 project, and has been asked by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) to submit an article about the IM SMART project for the NCTM Mathematics Teacher Journal. Simmons and Rienstra have also started working with Houston Lighting and Power and American Natural Gas Power on the construction of both an electric car and a compressed natural gas car.

IndentBoth teachers received congratulations from HISD Superintendent Rod Paige in an awards ceremony televised by Houston's ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates, as well as Channel 48, Houston's local Hispanic station.

IndentSimmons and Rienstra are also master teachers for the National Science Foundation-funded Project STAR teacher training program, and have presented Internet and computer technology-oriented workshops to more than 500 teachers since their participation in GirlTECH. Says Simmons of his experience in GirlTECH, "It has not only changed the way I teach, but the way I approach teaching." The CRPC wishes them both continued success in their efforts to bring computer technology into classroom.

For More Information...

IndentFor more information, visit Steve Simmons at or Stacey Baxter-Rienstra at, or contact Danny Powell at, 713-348-6011, or 713-348-5136 (fax).

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Updated by Debbie Campbell (
Posted September 17, 1996.