by Kathy Hedges

SOCORRO, N.M., Aug. 6, 2003 -- Twenty-eight teachers from 12 school districts around the state have just finished the first class of an innovative professional development program at New Mexico Tech. The program provides development for secondary science and math teachers and wraps up next June.

According to the program's coordinator, Dr. Philip Gonzales, the purpose of the program is to provide a better background to science and math teachers in the state. Gonzales explains, "New Mexico has a large science presence -- with the presence in the state of Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories and many high-tech industries and research universities -- but the state's students not performing well in those areas. This is an effort, funded by the state legislature, to provide those teachers with advanced coursework in math and science."

The teachers are taking courses in water quality, geology, paleontology, human biology, math, and technical communication. All courses are presented by New Mexico Tech faculty.

The teachers have just completed a one-week class in water quality on the New Mexico Tech campus in Socorro. During the coming year, they will work on courses from their homes, via distance education. Then, in June 2004, they will be back on campus for a final month. The 15 credit hours they acquire may count toward a Master's of Science Teaching from New Mexico Tech, if they desire.

The program was funded by the New Mexico State Legislature. Repetition of the program will depend on funding. Teachers were selected for the program by their school superintendents.

"The teachers are really enthusiastic," says Gonzales. "They are self-starters. We fully expect these teachers to return to their classrooms this year better equipped to teach science and math." "

The participating teachers are:

  • Jeffry Tull, Shaun Maria Sanchez, Barbara Martinez, Demetria Fenzi-Richardson, and Cynthia Connolly of Socorro
  • Rebecca Harris and Melinda Alderman of Magdalena
  • Abel Chavez of Grants
  • Susie Seeley and Lynnelle Eschberger of Mountainair
  • Frank Beyerl of Los Lunas
  • Matt Williams and Kathy Dockery of Belen
  • Jennifer Miyashiro, Renee Saucedo, Russ Fisher-Ives, Teresa Walker, and Laura Vogel of Rio Rancho
  • Rhonda Tully of Estancia and Dana Dawson of Moriarty
  • Olivia Casaus, Mark Lindstrom, and Danny May of Cuba
  • Jack Griswold and Lilian Sides of Pecos
  • Melody Alumbaugh and Lynette Deuel from Bernalillo.