It Takes a Village: R-iSMART Community Partner Model and Dissemination
Cohort 10 project “R-iSMART: Rialto Inspiring Science Mathematics and Related Technologies” at Rialto Unified School District hosted a third year, grant-end dissemination event on March 11, 2017, open to teachers, parents, counselors and administrators in the Inland Empire and surrounding areas. The Rialto Inspiring Science Educators (RISE) Conference was an opportunity for CaMSP participating teachers to share classroom tested NGSS aligned Project Based Learning (PBL) instructional resources and lessons learned with others.
Participating teachers presented their own 3rd -12th grade PBL units of study and strategies to implement the NGSS K-12. Meanwhile community partners presented blueprints to create community partnerships and regional NGSS collaboration opportunities. CEMEX USA, the City of Rialto, Veolia North America, CSU San Bernardino’s Cyber Security Center, Western University of Health Sciences and UC Riverside’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) were some of the R-iSMART partners that were showcased in the Exhibition Hall, displaying opportunities available to teachers and students.
The conference also gave Public Works an opportunity to meet some of the R-iSMART partners and hear about the influences R-iSMART has had within the school district and community. Christine Jones, a representative from CEMEX, said that before the connection to R-iSMART, the Rialto concrete plant and surface quarry did not have any community involvement. CEMEX is now the host of the 5K Run Around the Rocks community event every year, provides tours to classes, and judges and distributes specialty awards for the district science and engineering fair.
Veolia North America (the contracted water and wastewater treatment company for the City of Rialto) with R-iSMART project director, Juanita Chan, designed an education program called “Generation STEM.” This program aims to further support STEM education by providing: a variety of scholarships at all grade levels, judges and awards at the 5th-8th grade Rialto USD “STEMBowls” and science and engineering fair, classroom lab supplies, hosting assemblies and fieldtrips specifically tailored to NGSS standards and classroom content for assorted grade levels and courses, not to mention access to industry experts during the two-week summer science institute and additional teacher professional development. GenSTEM Manager Christina Salinas stated that, “The program grew from the connection with Juanita Chan and all that they learned about NGSS. Although the program currently supports only Rialto USD teachers and classrooms, (they) hope to expand the Education Program regionally.”
Bemis Elementary School’s principal, Danielle Osonduagwuike, and Assistant Principal, Maria Lara both attended the event to support the four participating teachers from their school site. Maria Lara stated, “These four teachers not only provide guidance at their school site for science, but also organize the STEMBowl, STEAM curriculum, and student leadership. R-iSMART has helped to create a culture of critical thinking and opportunity, because it is accessible to all of the students, including English Language Learners, students in Special Education and GATE. Within the Latino culture,” she explained, “(she is starting to see) more IHE education for parents, which is especially needed with female students, so they can feel supported in decisions about higher education.”
R-iSMART has not only had an impact within Rialto USD. Linda Braatz-Brown from San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (SBCSS) said, “Juanita Chan and Jodye Selco, (Cal Poly Pomona faculty member and Lead IHE partner), have played a key role in the roll-out of NGSS in the Inland Empire and the CaMSP grant has also lead to a nutrition grant for the County Office of Education and the Culinary Academy.” She described that, “ R-iSMART has been a very strong model in connecting with the community; as the community becomes more invested in education and the districts make strong connections the model gets stronger. The outreach has further influenced the high schools to delve into NGSS, the level of engagement has increased, and the mindset of teachers has changed. Teachers, students, and parents alike are all feeling more supported. Collaboration she said is like the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child, [which] is epitomized by R-iSMART.’”
The project recently submitted a video to the 2017 STEM for All Video Showcase, Virtual Conference that took place from May 15 -22, 2017.