California State University, Long Beach
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SchoolsFirst Continues Support

Published: June 19, 2017

More than 40 students from the College of Education’s (CED) Urban Dual Credential Program (UDCP) and SchoolsFirst FCU’s Urban Teacher Education Academy (UTEACH) attended the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference on Science Education, held this past spring at the Los Angeles Convention Center. SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union sponsored students’ attendance.

SchoolsFirst FCU has supported both the UTEACH and UDCP programs with a five-year grant of $500,000 presented in 2015. This federal credit union is owned by school employees, and offers auto loans, home loans, classroom supply loans and many other services.

The conference, which offered student teachers the opportunity to expand their knowledge on science education, was made up of talks about teaching the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and workshops on how to integrate science, technology, engineering and math into the classroom. It also featured author and software engineer Andy Weir as the event’s keynote speaker.

“The main principle of UTEACH is that people learning how to teach should learn those skills in an applied way,” said teacher education’s Felipe Golez, who serves as the co-director of the SchoolsFirst FCU UTEACH program. Other core faculty members for the program include teacher education’s Deborah Hamm and science education’s William Straits. “For new teachers, conferences are important because they can see things they never thought of and try to incorporate them into their classrooms.”

Aside from being exposed to different teaching styles and materials, students also had the opportunity to network with other attendees and professionals in science education.

“They felt part of the community,” said Hamm. “It’s tough to get invited into a professional community, because they aren’t always student friendly.”

The NSTA conference included an exhibitor’s hall where student teachers could participate in hands-on activities such as holding live animals and viewing a frog dissection. There were also several booths where they could purchase books and even take science classrooms specimens home for free.

“I took home some lesson plans that I will be able to use for my future classrooms and learned about tons of new resources available for science teaching,” said Ashley Schmidt, a liberal studies major and UTEACH Multiple Subject Credential Program student.

Among the students supported by SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union were (l-r) Alyson Perez, Wendy Chao and Ashley Schmidt.

“This conference helped me realize that I eventually want to become a single subject science teacher,” she added. “I would love to teach biology or life science so that I could teach my students about animals and their environments.”

While conferences are greatly enriching for student teachers, they are not the easiest to attend. Tickets for the NSTA conference ranged from $90 to $120, an amount that might be difficult to pay for some students.

“Sometimes just going to a conference is so expensive, with hotels, meals and the travel,” said Hamm. ”It can make it difficult for students to attend.”

“SchoolsFirst generously gave us funds for the conference,” said Golez. “They have been great supporters.”

“I am so grateful for their support because I never would have been able to afford this conference on my own, and I probably would have never known that it existed,” said Schmidt. “But now that I do, I plan to attend this conference again in the future.”

If you would like more information on SchoolsFirst FCU, click here. To read more on the grant awarded to UDCP and UTEACH, click here.