Extra grant money to provide additional class for ASSIST program

PLAINVIEW – Thanks to an additional $84,000 from the state of Texas, Wayland Baptist University’s Academic Summer Science Institute for Secondary Teachers (ASSIST) will be offering another course for area teachers in science matters.

Joanne Bowers, who has served as instructor for many of the ASSIST courses over the years, will teach the new course titled “Energy Interactions Through the Environment,” aimed specifically at teachers who teach a class outside their normal subject field.

“These courses are designed to trace the strand of energy flow through the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) taught in grades 5-12,” Bowers said. “The class shows how energy interacts and causes the changes in the environment and how these changes affect our daily lives.”

Bowers, a longtime science teacher in the Plainview schools, said the course came about because TAKS test scores showed a deficiency in that area. Since Wayland Baptist University has already received a grant to teach various science courses each summer toward the same goal of improving teacher knowledge, the state opted to increase the school’s allocation for 2007 and allow them to add the energy course.

According to Dr. J. Hoyt Bowers, ASSIST program director since its inception in the summer of 1986, his wife Joanne was also the writer of the course curriculum.

“We met with the program directors over breakfast, and while we visited she sketched out the objectives and the course content, based on the needs that students had,” he said.

Part one of the class is set to begin in the fall, held one Saturday each month through the academic year. The second part will be taught in summer 2008. Courses are taught in the Moody Science Building on the Wayland campus.

Teachers chosen for the program pay no tuition, thanks to the grant, and are also reimbursed $5 per class day for lunch and $10 for child care. Some travel allowance is also paid, and teachers receive a $300 stipend once both classes are completed. They can also receive eight hours of graduate credit in science from WBU and a free laptop computer once both the courses are completed.

“The teachers really get a lot of materials during this course as well that they can use in their classrooms,” Mrs. Bowers added.

Besides the Bowers, Dr. Elise Adamson, associate professor of mathematics ands physics, will serve as classroom consultant for the course. Linda Murphree, curriculum coordinator for the Plainview I.S.D., serves as the district liaison for the program.

The additional money, called an Upward Amendment grant, came from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the same entity that funds the ASSIST program annually. The program statewide is administered through the DANA Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Wayland has received grants each year from THECB for the ASSIST program, totaling an estimated $2 million. The Bowers were honored in December 2005 along with WBU for being the only university to receive a continuous grant from the organization for 20 years.

For more information on the ASSIST program, contact Bowers at (806) 291-1116.