K-12 Teachers Garner Awards and Recognition After Participating in CRPC's GirlTECH

Launched in 1995 by the CRPC at Rice University, the highly successful GirlTECH program provides Houston-area K-12 teachers with intensive technology training and innovative teaching strategies that impact gender equity in the classroom. Sponsored by the CRPC and RGK Foundation of Austin, Texas, the program features an annual two-week summer workshop where teachers:

  • Learn to use online resources as a research, teaching, and collaboration tool
  • Create their own homepages
  • Design and publish Web-based math and science curricula and create homepages for their schools
  • Make a one-year commitment to advanced training (three Saturday sessions) and to an integration of technology into teaching practices
  • Receive year-long Rice University Internet accounts and the software needed for Internet access
  • Gain an awareness of the latest research in the computational sciences and hear from business and industry leaders about their expectations of students for the 21st century
  • Establish student technology projects at their campuses to ensure a transfer of knowledge to their students
  • Become members of a teachers' technology electronic support group that communicates throughout the year
GirlTECH participants have leveraged their knowledge by training hundreds of other teachers and bringing new technologies and innovative teaching methods into their classrooms and beyond. Their accomplishments have garnered numerous awards, grants, fellowships, and presentations, and are benefitting thousands of young students who are enjoying new ways of learning about and becoming more involved in math, science, and computers.

Standout Teachers from GirlTECH 1995

Susan Boone

Barbara Christopher
Many participants of the first GirlTECH workshop have gone on to start new science-, math-, and technology-related programs at their schools, develop Web-based lessons, and achieve special recognition by using and sharing their new knowledge. Susan Boone, Barbara Christopher, and Judy Woods have been especially active in GirlTECH since their first experience with the program, serving as Master Teachers in subsequent years to help train and encourage new participants. All have been recognized widely for their innovative lessons and programs.

Boone, a mathematics teacher at St. Agnes Academy, was recognized in Roberta Furger's new book, Does Jane Compute?, for her work inspiring girls in math and computing. Her mathematics Web lessons have been cited by numerous Web-based education services. She serves as a lesson author for Datacast Learning Network and participates in the Park City/Institute for Advanced Studies Mathematics, among other activities.

"When I first participated in GirlTECH, the Internet was a novel item for educational purposes," says Boone. "The 20 teachers in our class blazed trails that other educators are following daily. I am honored and awed that I was part of that development, and I continue to grow and learn."

Computer science teacher Barbara Christopher of Eisenhower High School also was recognized in Does Jane Compute?. Her school's Web site was chosen as Star School of the Month by CEARCH and was featured in a textbook about educational Internet activities. Her online lessons have been featured on various educational Web sites, and she was part of a grant-writing team that helped her school become one of the 11 beacon schools in the Houston Annenberg Challenge.

"Since my first summer with GirlTECH, the potential of Internet publishing and collaboration has inspired me on a daily basis," says Christopher. "I started the first school Web site in our district. This led to my grant-writing activities and the projects that came from them. The Annenberg Challenge grant resulted in the Eisenhower After-School Technology Center and the Dynamic Website Project. I am currently working with several teachers on a multimedia training center funded last year by a Texas Technology Integration in Education (TIE) grant."

Woods is a technology specialist at Drew Academy, a magnet school for math, science, and fine arts. Until this year, she taught at Reed Elementary and used her GirlTECH experience to sponsor computer clubs, science activities, and field trips. She now is working on a proposal for a GirlTECH class that would use a synergistics laboratory and eight science- and math-related modules for girls to progress through. She is collaborating with the lab teacher, science coordinator, and math program director for the district, and has the endorsement of her principal, who will present the idea to the director of magnet schools for Aldine and the area supervisor.

"We don't have the final okay on this program yet, but if it is a go, I plan to have a speaker in the class once a month," she says. "We also have a distance learning lab that I plan to use, and will have a live feed from a female scientist, engineer, or mathematician every couple of weeks. I never would have had such ambitions were it not for my involvement in GirlTECH."

Standout Teachers from GirlTECH 1996

Judy Lee

Karen North
Judy Lee and Karen North were among 1996 GirlTECH participants who have enriched their work with technical knowledge and special achievements. Lee, a science teacher at Blocker Middle School, won one of six Texas Medical Association 1997 Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching. She received the merit award in the junior high school level for her lesson plan on ultra violet radiation and skin protection, and was a state-level finalist for the 1997 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She also received the Texas Chemical Council/Association of Chemical Industry of Texas Chemicals and the Environment Science Teacher's Award.

"An educator's responsibility has grown beyond the classroom walls and leads us to play an active role in specialized knowledge," says Lee. "GirlTECH offered the knowledge to help me respond to the needs of my school and science curriculum. The technology education gained helped with effective student assessment and demonstrated how computers in the classroom can be part of a well-managed program."

North, a computer science teacher from Elsik High School, has incorporated a web mastering course into her school's curriculum using skills she gained from GirlTECH. She facilitated a group of eight computer science teachers across Texas and from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to write the performance descriptors for the computer science Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS). They were able to develop this technology application area online, without having to meet. The area was passed 15-0 by the Texas State Board of Education. She recently served as president of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Computer Science Special Interest Group and has made numerous presentations at conferences. In addition to her teaching activities, North uses her skills to benefit her community.

"I am active in community work and am education chair and treasurer of the Alief Community Association," she says. "We have a Web page that I hope will facilitate building the community. It was the spirit of giving and commitment that I gained from being around other hardworking teachers that gave me the motivation to do this work."

Jo Leland (right) and GirlTECH co-director Cynthia Lanius

Marilyn Turmelle

Standout Teachers from 1997

Jo Leland, a science teacher from Hidden Hollow Elementary, and Marilyn Turmelle, a computer science teacher from Klein Oak High School, already are gaining recognition and reaping the benefits of their GirlTECH training. Leland's school was selected to participate in the Symbolic Migration of Butterflies in 1997 and 1998, in which students in the United States and Canada make butterflies in the fall that are mailed to an organization called Journey North. The school is one of the "official Tulip Gardens" for Journey North, meaning the results of its program and approximately 10 others worldwide are reported as a means to track and predict the northern coming of spring. The butterflies contain friendly greetings written in Spanish to the children of Mexico. Leland built an online interdisciplinary lesson based on the project that includes connections with science, math, art, social studies, letter writing, Spanish, and word processing.

Turmelle worked with a small group of faculty members to write a successful grant proposal for $100,000 earmarked for wiring Klein Oak High School for Internet access. She enlisted four girls to help with a school-wide survey on current Internet access at home. The girls wrote and distributed the survey, analyzed the responses, and even signed the grant proposal. Turmelle is using the new technology made possible by the grant at her campus.

"My participation in GirlTECH has heightened my awareness of the lack of girls in computer science," says Turmelle. "Hearing other people talk about the problem underscores what I have noticed in my classroom. The greatest benefit of the program is the network created by the participants. There is a positive attitude and a willingness to experiment and share that is extremely rewarding."

GirlTECH is co-directed by Dr. Richard Tapia, CRPC Director of Education and Human Resources; and Cynthia Lanius, a former mathematics teacher at Milby High School and CRPC Associate Director of Education, Outreach, and Training. Tapia won the 1996 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring and was the keynote speaker at the 1998 event (see "Tapia Gives Keynote Address at White House Mentoring Award Symposium"). Lanius won a 1996 Eleanor Roosevelt Teacher Fellowship from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.

Plans are underway for next year's GirlTECH workshop, with a proposal to bring three teacher/university teams associated with the Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) Education, Outreach, and Training (EOT) program. (See "PACI Projects at the CRPC," Winter 1998 Parallel Computing Research.) For more information, contact Lanius at lanius@rice.edu.

For more information about GirlTECH, including the special accomplishments of many other participating teachers, see http://teachertech.rice.edu/. For general information about the program, contact Danny Powell at danny@rice.edu, 713-348-6011, or 713-348-5136 (fax).

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