Contributions Paying Off

Nothing makes us happier at the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board than looking back on a school year filled with success. Students and teachers are high on our priority list and we believe in arming them with the tool they need to reach their potential.

July 2010 through June 2011 proved a busy year for the OERB staff and Master Teachers. Together they trained 1,455 Oklahoma educators to teach one of the OERB’s eight energy and science curricula.

Teachers chose a curriculum that best fit the grade level they teach - Little Bits for kindergarten through second grade, Fossils to Fuel or Fossils to Fuel 2 for third through sixth grade, Petro Active for middle school and one of four high school sections from CORE Energy – Science, Math, Social Studies and Language Arts.

Teachers who provide feedback to the OERB say the one-of-a-kind curricula are great additions to their classrooms.

“The OERB curricula will provide our students hands-on experiences as they learn basic concepts about petroleum and how it relates to their everyday lives,” said Traci Smith, a teacher at Will Rogers Junior High in Claremore.

“Our students don’t get much science and social studies. It will be great to have hands-on activities to introduce these skills to them,” said Starla Thomas, a teacher at Okmulgee Primary School.

A teacher in Adair says she can’t wait to teach all of the activities to her students.

“These activities are all hands-on, and it’s a wonderful resource to teach kids about our natural resources and tie into Oklahoma history,” said Bernita Hughes Elementary teacher Amy Wingard.

Each teacher walks away from the training with a free kit full of the supplies needed to teach each curriculum in their classroom. The generous producers and royalty owners who fund the OERB pay for these kits along with all of the OERB’s programs. Supply kits range in price from $250 to as much at $750 depending upon the curriculum.

During the 2010-11 school year, the OERB provided teachers with more than $445,000 in classroom supplies! Some teachers say their students would never learn about many science methods were it not for the assistance from the OERB.

Educators rave about the amount of free supplies the OERB gives to them.

“The endless resources available to classroom teachers are great,” said Amy Hickman, who teaches at Park Lane Elementary in Broken Arrow.

Wagoner teacher Dana Lord agrees.

“The OERB is very generous to educators,” said Lord.

Perkins-Tryon Elementary teacher Annie Davis added, “I love that the OERB is giving back to schools!”

The OERB funds reach beyond the classroom as well, ensuring students have opportunities to learn about Oklahoma’s rich history and culture. Once a teacher finishes teaching an OERB curriculum in his or her classroom, the students receive a field trip to one of seven museums in the state, sponsored by the OERB. Last year, the OERB funded more than $335,000 in museum admissions and transportation costs for Oklahoma students across the state.

Teachers tell the OERB they are grateful.

“In today’s economy, help with field trips is wonderful and much appreciated,” said Darcey Austin, teacher at Garfield Elementary in Ponca City.

Sooner Rose Elementary (OKC) teacher Stephanie Strilding says OERB’s program is like no other.

“It’s the only workshop I know of that you get a free field trip,” said Strilding.

Educators in 95 percent of Oklahoma’s school districts are now using OERB’s energy curricula in the classroom. The 2010-2011 school year brought record-breaking workshop attendance numbers. Workshops in Tulsa, Edmond and Sapulpa each saw attendance above 200 during the spring and summer.

OERB Education Director Carla Schaeperkoetter expects the turnout will only increase this fall.

“As more and more teachers return to their classrooms armed with OERB’s one-of-a-kind energy and science tools, other teachers begin to hear about and see what we have to offer. That’s a word-of-mouth seal of approval we are honored to receive,” said Schaeperkoetter. “Any time we can introduce a new teacher to our program, we know we are going to reach more students which is our ultimate goal.”

The OERB Education Department has a new list of teacher workshops scheduled for the spring semester. For workshop dates and registration instructions, click here.