JONESVILLE — Her career as an educator is only in its second year but Jonesville Elementary/Middle School teacher Kayla Sue Sprouse has already taken part in a prestigious training program for South Carolina school teachers.
Roper Mountain Science Center, a facility of Greenville County Schools, announced last week that Sprouse, a mather and science teacher at JEMS, had attended the Science P.L.U.S. Institute during the summer of 2015.
The announcement states that the the Institute, which receives 100 percent funding of its funding from a South Carolina Education Improvement Act (EIA) grant, gives intensive training in science teaching methods and activities to public school science teachers from throughout South Carolina. It states that the Institute emphasizes the Center’s belief that all students deserve a good science education.
It further states that each school district that submitted applicants is represented by at least one teacher chosen to attend the Institute. In the Institute’s 23-year history, over 4,000 public school science teachers have participated in Science P.L.U.S. classes.
That number now includes Sprouse who spent a week this summer at the Institute taking one of its science units.
“I have a friend who teaches at Columbia and this school sent him,” Sprouse said. “He asked if I would go with him.”
Sprouse, who began teaching at JEMS in the 2014-2015 school year, spent her time at the Institute studying and taking part in labs gaining experience and training and being give materials that she will bring back to her students.
“We had classes every day and it was based on a specific unit of science,” Sprouse said. “They they just use our lesson plans and we did labs. Everything that we did, every lab we did, they gave us material to bring back and do with the kids.
“At the beginning of the week we were given an aquarium we could bring back,” she said. “We started a compost and it takes a year and they said by the end of this year we should be able to grow a garden with our students.”
The courses for the 2015 Science P.L.U.S. Institute include six different one-week classes in weather, earth science, life science, space, and physical science. Classes are built around specific grade levels corresponding to the South Carolina Science Academic Standards for grades 1-12. Institute courses encourage teachers to incorporate math and language arts skills into their science lessons and to look for opportunities to make science connections when teaching other disciplines.
A major goal of the Science P.L.U.S. institute is to provide teachers the resources needed to do hands-on science activities with their students. Each participant receives science materials and supplies to duplicate lessons learned. These materials extend the Institute into the state’s classrooms by empowering teachers with new tools for teaching science. New skills, enhanced content knowledge, and tested ideas shared by other teachers enable Science P.L.IJ.S. participants to return to their classrooms with confidence and renewed enthusiasm for science instruction.
Sprouse said that those taking part in the Institute had the option of taking it for course credit or recertification and she chose recertification.
Because the Institute is only for a week, those attending are unable to take more than one unit of study, Sprouse said she plans to go back and take each unit until she completes all of them.
In addition to attending the Institute in the future, Sprouse she has applied to be an ambassador for the program.
“They send out letters to the districts to the teachers but they are also looking for one or two teachers in each district send the information to and pass it along,” she said. “I’ve applied to be one of those ambassadors.”
South Carolina EIA Funds are generated by the fifth penny of sales tax on each dollar. The Science P.L.IJ.S. Institute is only one of many programs throughout the state supported by these sales tax funds.
A Union County High School graduate, Sprouse graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Middle Level Math and Science.
Following graduation, Sprouse began her educational career at JEMS where she originally planned to be a math teacher but instead found herself teaching science.
“I love math, but last year there was a science position open, but there wasn’t a math position, so I taught science,” Sprouse said. “I taught seventh and eighth grade science last year for half of the year and then I got switched to seventh and eighth grade math and science. Now I love them both.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or [email protected]