The Grade Blog

Wednesday, May 28 2014 05:06 PM

THE GRADE: Spelling bee, bills and STEM grads

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Lauren Foreman covers education for The Californian. Reach her at lforeman@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCEducationReporter or on Twitter@TBCTheGrade.

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    Bakersfield High School students in aerospace engineering created a robot to explore a simulated terrain and detect water Tuesday at a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Pathway to Engineering graduation celebration held at Bakersfield High School. This photo was contributed by Chevron.

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    By Contributed photo

    Paula Burroughs is a kindergarten teacher at San Lauren Elementary School in the Beardsley School District.

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By LAUREN FOREMAN, Californian staff writer lforeman@bakersfield.com

PROJECT LEAD THE WAY: Chevron Corp. and Bakersfield High School recognized the second graduating class of engineering students who participated in a Project Lead The Way Pathway to Engineering program to prepare students for work in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields.

The recognition event held Tuesday at BHS celebrated 81 student graduates of the program from Bakersfield, Centennial, Golden Valley and Highland high schools in the Kern High School District.

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ABOUT YOUR REPORTER

Lauren Foreman covers education for The Californian. She writes in this spot every Thursday. Contact her at lforeman@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCEducationReporter or on Twitter @TBCTheGrade.

This class is more than three times larger than the first class that graduated from the Pathway to Engineering program last year.

And more than 80 percent of this year's graduates plan to pursue careers in STEM fields -- which is the purpose of the program, said Adam Alvidrez, a Chevron spokesman.

Alvidrez added that the goal is to train students early for careers in STEM fields because by 2018 there will be close to 1 million jobs requiring at least a bachelor's degree in a STEM discipline.

Chevron invested almost $1 million in Pathway to Engineering and $250,000 to train teachers at 10 Bakersfield City School District middle and junior high schools in STEM education.

TEACHER OF THE WEEK: Children playing and singing, sometimes to piano tunes or classic nursery rhymes, are distinguishing characteristics of classroom number 1 at San Lauren Elementary School in the Beardsley School District.

Paula Burroughs, the kindergarten teacher in the room this year, said so is playtime.

Her students build with blocks, learning spatial reasoning and problem solving and learn how to share and interact with their peers.

"I guess one of my biggest goals is to keep kindergarten kindergarten," she said. "I want the kindergartners to have a chance to paint and sing and play."

They are all learning opportunities, said the educator who has taught grades kindergarten through fourth for more than 30 years since 1982.

Scores of teachers and working professionals can say Mrs. Burroughs taught them how to read, and 27 students in her class of 30 kindergartners this year have learned an above-average 98 high-frequency sight words like 'they' and 'that.'

Burroughs said the words are key to teaching students to read, one of her most important goals.

"I think that every year when they learn to read, you see that light go on in their brains and know that they are getting it," she said.

"I love getting up in the morning and going to work," Burroughs said.

LOCAL SPELLER WON'T ADVANCE: Eesha Sohail, two-time winner of a local Kern County spelling bee, failed to advance to the semifinal round of the 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee Wednesday.

Eesha, a seventh-grader at Norris Middle School, competed in preliminary rounds with what started as 280 other students that began Wednesday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.

Eesha, No. 9 in the national bee, correctly spelled her first word -- "tchotchke" -- and her second, "gouda." But she did not earn enough points in the computer-based test to advance to the semifinals.

Eesha was ranked 47th, only missing by one point, her father, Asif Sohail, said after the competition.

"We think she did great," he added.

The National Spelling Bee released its list of 46 semifinalists, only two from California, Wednesday.

California eighth-graders Timothy Lau of Torrance and Neha Konakalla of Cupertino will compete in the semifinals Thursday.

To view a complete list of semifinalists, visit tinyurl.com/ma33afj.

ASSEMBLY PASSES AG ED BILL: The state Assembly has unanimously approved legislation to support funding for agriculture education.

AB 2033 advanced Tuesday after agriculture groups say changes in school funding threatened programs that support farming and technical education.

Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield says his bill guarantees future funding for programs such as Future Farmers of America. Budget committees in both houses have kept $4.1 million in matching grants for agriculture training in their proposals.

AB 2033 will head to the state Senate in June after passing on a 66-0 vote in the Assembly.

-- The Associated Press

WHAT YOU'RE SAYING: Here's the latest buzz from The Californian's Facebook page:

The California state Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would, if approved by the Assembly, allow some community colleges to offer four-year degrees. Bakersfield College petitioned to include a nursing degree as part of the measure, arguing the degree could help meet local workforce needs in nursing.

But Cal State Bakersfield argued the state should instead give more money to universities to expand nursing offerings. What do you think?

Linda Alvarado: "BC is a more affordable option for many students. I think it's a good idea."

Frank Moore: "Considering the fact that it currently takes most nursing/RN students at BC 3-4 years, to get what should be a two-year associate's degree and RN certification, this premise is ridiculous."

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