TGen Blog : STEM Teachers Get Schooled at TGen This Summer
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STEM Teachers Get Schooled at TGen This Summer

Five STEM teachers from Saguaro High School came to TGen, July 7-9, for the Excellence in Bioscience Teacher Initiative pilot project, funded by the Scottsdale Unified School District Foundation.

Saguaro High School STEM teachers Derek Nietz (back left), Heather Moll (back center), Camilo Tafur (back right), Kevin Walz (front left) and Susan Lindberg (front right) reunite with Sabercats Class of 2005 graduate and TGen post-doc Elizabeth Hutchins (front center) during the Excellence in Bioscience Teacher Initiative.


Five math and science teachers from Saguaro High School went back-to-school this summer at TGen. They spent three days in hands-on, immersive training as part of our Excellence in Bioscience Teacher Initiative, a pilot project funded by the Scottsdale Unified School District Foundation.

The pilot was created with the vision of elevating and investing in individual teachers, which will benefit an exponential number of individual students over time. One of those students, Elizabeth Hutchins, graduated from Saguaro in 2005 and now works at TGen as a post-doctoral fellow researching neurological disorders.

Her Science Olympiad coach, Susan Lindberg, who teaches Biotechnology and Chemistry, was selected to attend the Bioscience Teacher Initiative, along with her math teacher, Kevin Walz, a Statistics and Advanced Placement Calculus instructor.

"It was fun for me to see some of the teachers from my high school because they were influential in my being interested in science," Dr. Hutchins explained. "Science Olympiad was a big part of that because you got to apply things you learned in the classroom. That was one of the first opportunities I had to see science in action."

The teachers toured the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, worked one-on-one with TGen mentors, learned about the technology used in TGen labs and spent time with Helios Scholars interns to gather student perspectives.

"I've enjoyed seeing the many different fields, many different ideas and many different skills that are used on a daily basis," explained department chair Heather Moll, who teaches Chemistry and Earth Science. "Writing and reading - those are skills that kids don't think are important in science - and they are truly important here."

From ethics to bioinformatics to clinical trials, the teachers experienced a 360-degree view of the latest in scientific thought and collaboration. More than 20 TGen faculty and staff members contributed their time and expertise to the training sessions and made a lasting impact on their teacher-students.

"What's consistent among everyone at TGen from interns to the highest-level is their generosity with their time and how much of themselves they're willing to give," said Camilo Tafur, an Advance Placement Biology, Honors Biology and Chemistry teacher. "That will be something I'll tell the students when they ask what they need to do to be someone who could work at TGen."


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