A local educator starts a journey today that will take him to Singapore to study the teaching methods used by his fellow math teachers on the far side of the planet.
Shane Castevens, a North Surry alumnus, lives in Surry County, but works at the Stokes Early College near Walnut Cove, teaching Math I, II, III and Precalculus.
Castevens and 10 other teachers from across the state leave today for a trip to learn the best practices from one of the world’s most acclaimed education systems, before returning July 24.
Castevens is excited about this opportunity to improve as a teacher and to see another country. He said he has traveled to Mexico before, but never left the continent.
Singapore is an island nation at the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula, between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Though a relatively young nation, having established its independence in 1965, Singapore has emerged as an innovator in education, particularly in mathematics and the sciences.
Over the past 50 years, its students have consistently ranked at or near the top in international comparisons of math, science and literacy proficiency. Last year, Singapore was rated best in the world by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), based on an analysis of test scores from 76 countries.
Castevens said he has met some of these educators before through another endeavor, the N.C. Best Program.
Also, the trip is sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) Scholars Program, in partnership with the University of North Carolina system. Castevens said he knows some of these delegates through their UNC connection.
The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is a private independent foundation that supports biomedical research and science education.
Leading the trip will be Education NC and Go Global NC (formerly known as the Center for International Understanding).
This is the second cohort of BWF Scholars to travel to Singapore, following an earlier delegation in 2012.
Mount Airy High officials are familiar with Go Global NC. In November 2014, a group of board members and educators traveled to China. Then last year two separate groups visited from China. The first group were school principals, and the second were students. Mount Airy is the only area school to offer Mandarin as a foreign language option.
For this trip, the group will be documenting the visit via social media using the hashtag #SingBWF. Posts will be available on Twitter at @UNC_System; on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/uncsystem; and on Instagram at @EducationNC and @goglobalnc.
During their time in Singapore, North Carolina teachers will:
· Explore Singapore’s approach to teaching math and science in a K-12 setting;
· Gain insight into in-service professional development and pre-service teacher preparation;
· Learn how the country’s future educational leaders are identified and prepared;
· Gain a better understanding of Singapore’s approach to supporting early career teachers and school leaders; and
· Collaborate with each other to find ways to implement lessons learned from Singapore, including global perspectives and use of technology in the classroom.
The other 2016 delegates are Megan Alvord, physics (Broughton High School); Michael Baker, math (Holly Springs High School); Andromeda Crowell, biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology (Orange High School); Stephanie Robinett, science (Roxboro Community School); Emily Felker, biology and astronomy (Holly Springs High School); Stefanie Joyner, biology (Hillside High School); Brittany Krasutsky, science (Charles D. Owens Middle School); Dustin Nichols, math (East Burke High School); Gabrielle Rice, science (Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School); and Kayleigh Willis, math (Broughton High School).
The participating teachers will reconvene in September to synthesize ideas and develop new classroom curricula and lesson plans that incorporate what they learned in Singapore.
“This international study experience will help enrich these teachers’ instructional approach to teaching mathematics and science, as well as expand their global awareness and cultural competence,” said Alisa Chapman, UNC vice president for academic and university programs.
“We are fortunate to have sponsorship from the BWF for this innovative teacher preparation program offering a ‘fast track’ to teacher certification for science and mathematics majors aimed at preparing these individuals for careers in teaching.”
Chapman will lead the delegation along with Rick Van Sant, executive director of Go Global NC.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.