Saturday, October 25, 2014

Training Sessions for Peer Educators Prepare Them for UVI, Community Outreach

From left, St. Thomas Campus Peer Educators Sean Benjamin, 
Lurenzo Scotland - a lead educator, Elvaneice Huggins and 
Kiah Muller - a lead educator, release balloons signifying the 
release of their weaknesses while focusing on their strengths 
during a training sessionClick on photos to see larger image
This year, when UVI celebrates Red Ribbon Week on St. Croix and St. Thomas, members of the University’s Peer Educators Program will play a key role in the activities. In addition to staffing pledge tables and participating in the planned marches, the Peer Educators – 16 on St. Croix and 19 on St. Thomas – will make presentations on campus and participate in outreach to the greater Virgin Islands community. (Note: Red Ribbon activities are set for both campuses from Oct. 27-30. Link to UVI Announcements)
           
Their goal is to share accurate information about the effects that drugs, alcohol and HIV have on their fellow students as well as other residents in the territory. Three formal training sessions held earlier this semester brought all the program’s students together to hear from experts in their respective fields, according to Program Coordinator Alyssa Ryan. The trainings, a mandatory aspect of the program, featured Dr. Peggy Glider from the University of Arizona; Vanessa Cooke, director of Bowie State University’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Center; and UVI alumna Japheth Auguste, who works as a professional counselor in Florida.

Some of the contingent of Peer Educators from the Albert A. Sheen 
Campus gather for a photo during a break from training. Shown, 
from left, are - back row - Tyquana Mewborn, Samuel Joseph, 
Akira Matthew, Briana Eleonora, Chyrise Eleonora, Shenequa 
Hector and Rokeyah Connor, and -  front row - Janalee Concepcion, 
Christopher Rosario - lead educator, Sophia Johnson, Kaila Mitchell 
and Ashley Baker.
Glider shared details of a program she runs that is designed to reduce high-risk drinking among college students and others ages 18 to 24 using campus-based media campaigns and other strategies to address misperceptions about alcohol. Cooke conducted a Certified Peer Educators Training session designed to improve listening skills, develop socially inclusive outreach efforts, and share techniques to successfully encourage individuals to take action steps for change. All Peer Educators work to achieve certification.


Auguste’s training focused on an in-depth look at the effects of alcohol and marijuana on different parts of the body, and how students can translate that information to their peers. She also discussed the possible legalization of marijuana in the Virgin Islands and how to handle situations where Peer Educators encounter students who strongly favor the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana.

The work of Peer Educators continues throughout the year. The program is part of UVI’s larger Substance Abuse and HIV Prevention Program, which is funded by a major grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration.

Peer Educators pose with presenter Dr. Peggy Glider, in red, from the University of Arizona during a training session in September.



Friday, October 17, 2014

Three St. Croix UVI Process Technology Students Receive Seven Seas Water Scholarships

Scholarship Recipients of the Seven Seas Water Scholarships are, from
left, Tyrone DeCosta, Alex G. Cintron and Kwame N. Garcia.
Three UVI Process Technology students on St. Croix have each been awarded $2,000 scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic school year from Seven Seas Water. The students are Tyrone DeCosta, Alex G. Cintron and Kwame N. Garcia. 

All three recipients are first-year students in the two-year Associate of Applied Science in Process Technology (AASPT) Degree Program which is offered on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. This program has produced 110 graduates in the last decade. These graduates are now employed in industrial facilities locally, nationally and globally.


Seven Seas Water is based in Tampa, Fla, and operates reverse osmosis water desalination plants at the Virgin Islands Water Power Authority (VIWAPA) plant facilities on St. Thomas and St. Croix. Seven Seas Water has been partnering with and supporting the Process Technology Program by providing scholarships, internships and employment opportunities to UVI students since 2012. For more information contact Program Director Eric Douglas at (340) 690-9533 or send email to edougla@live.uvi.edu.

UVI Alumna, Professor Named ‘Future of Nursing Scholar’

Future of Nursing Scholar Desiree Bertrand attends 7th Annual UVI CERC Health Disparities Institute on St. Thomas. 
Nursing is Desiree Bertrand’s calling. The need to help someone else is what drew her to the career, but it is understanding that research can lead to solutions, that drove her to seek a doctorate degree in nursing. Bertrand’s dedication to research has not gone unnoticed. 

Bertrand, a University of the Virgin Islands alumna, has been named a Future of Nursing Scholar by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This fall, she is part of the inaugural cohort of the foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholars (FNS) Program. This program is designed to dramatically increase the number of Ph.D.-prepared nurses in the United States.

The schools that are funded by the FNS program select the students who will receive scholarships and other support. Bertrand is enrolled in the Medical University of South Carolina and attends classes on-line. She was chosen from 15 other (MUSC) Ph.D. nursing students who were expected to begin classes in 2014.

Sixteen students from universities throughout the United States will join Bertrand in the program’s inaugural cohort. “I was very honored and humbled to receive such a scholarship,” says Bertrand. The FNS program is a three year program that provides financial support, mentoring, leadership development activities, and postdoctoral research funding to build the leadership capacity of nurse educators and researchers.
UVI Adjunct Nursing Professor Desiree Bertrand 

“My initial drive to get a Ph.D. is so that I can better understand the research process,” says Bertrand, who hopes to become a well-qualified nurse researcher. “With a Ph.D., I would be able to apply for grants and do my own research projects – which is my goal.”

For her doctoral research, Bertrand will focus on intimate partner violence. Her research interests include women's health, health disparities and domestic violence. She is co-principal investigator of a research study titled, “An Integrated Risk Reduction Intervention for African Caribbean Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence – The Empowered Sisters Project.”

“I think the fact that I am actively doing research and the depth of research over the last five years, was a major decision factor in getting this scholarship,” says Bertrand, who has been an assistant professor at UVI since 2003 and has been a research coordinator and community education and outreach director with the UVI Caribbean Exploratory Research Center (CERC) since 2009.

“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholars program was designed as a multi-funder initiative that will create a diverse group of Ph.D.-prepared nurses committed to long-term leadership careers, advancing science and discovery through research, strengthening nursing education, and furthering transformational change in nursing and health care,” says Heather J. Kelley-Thompson, FNS program deputy director. Bertrand joined the inaugural cohort of scholars attending a leadership boot camp in August 2014. “This two-day immersion allowed the scholars to connect as a cohort and develop skills that will serve them well as they begin their doctoral programs,” says Kelly-Thompson.

“Ms. Bertrand has been a major contributor to key research projects in which the center is involved, participating in data collection, analysis and manuscript development and publications,” says Dr. Gloria Callwood, UVI associate professor of nursing and director of CERC. “I am certain that her extraordinary accomplishments related to her research activities at CERC influenced the decision makers at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.”

Bertrand has participated in and provided oversight of research activity on St Croix, while leading territorial community activities to inform the public on health risk reduction and leading healthier life styles, says Dr. Callwood. Under her leadership, the Community Education and Outreach Core developed a “Health Education Toolkit,” which can be accessed at http://cercuvi.com. She has also presented research outcomes at national and international conferences.

There is little health research on Virgin Islanders or research done by Virgin Islanders, explains Bertrand. “The research that I am doing now and in the future will affect people in the Virgin Islands.” Currently research done on African Americans in the mainland, are used to represent the health needs of people in the territory. She hopes she will have the opportunity to collaborate with other researches to benefit the healthcare in the territory.
Desiree Bertrand (right) speaks with CERC Community Engagement and
Outreach Coordinator Dr. Angela Ford (center ) and CERC Regional
Coordinator Dr. Janis M. Valmond at the CERC Health Disparities Institute. 

Bertrand is an adjunct nursing professor at UVI. Students participating in the FNS program are strongly encouraged to cut their workload in half. The program provides financial support that allows them to work part-time as they pursue their doctoral degrees.

Bertrand earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UVI in 1995 and a Master of Science in Nursing Education from Midwestern State University in 2002.

The other universities participating in the FNS program include Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Villanova University, the University of California- Davis, the University of California - San Francisco, the University of California - Los Angeles, the University of San Diego, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Rhode Islands, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, and Duke University.

Monday, October 6, 2014

New Soccer Field Ushers in New Era in UVI Athletics

The ribbon is cut at UVI's new soccer field on the Albert A. Sheen Campus. Click on photos for larger view.

When Denny Smith started kicking around soccer balls in his native Dominica, he had no idea that the sport would lead to a collegiate athletic career. Fast forward about a decade and Smith is co-captain of UVI's men's soccer team. On Oct. 4, the junior computer science major led his team to home game victory in the school's inaugural soccer match on the new league-certified field on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. Smith scored the two goals that lead to UVI's 2-0 win over Polytecnica University of Puerto Rico. In the riveting game, Smith was assisted by co-captain Kimani George in the first goal and by Ismail S. Yusuf in the second. Goal keeper Jahidi Gussie made an impressive seven saves.

“It felt good playing in front of our home fans for once,” he said. He added that the game was tough, as both teams were playing on a regulation-sized field – which is larger than any they've ever played on. “It's the best field that I've ever played on,” Smith said.

“We should be proud of this,” said UVI's Interim Athletic Director Curtis Gilpin. “This is ours and is a first of many firsts,” he added. “I'm looking forward to all the matches – whether with the LAI or international games – because we have the only certified soccer field in the territory.” LAI - Liga Atletic Interuniversitaria – is the intercollegiate association of which UVI is a member. The soccer match also marked the first time a LAI game of any sport was played on the Sheen Campus.

The soccer field is located adjacent to the campus’ outdoor tennis and basketball courts. UVI hopes to host international teams from throughout the Caribbean and the world. 

Bucs teammates gather around Denny Smith for a selfie 
just after he scored the first goal on UVI's new, league-approved 
soccer field on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014.
The field was a long-time coming for the institution.  UVI started a LAI soccer program in 2011, led by Coach Johannes Worede. Initially scheduled to come on-line in Fall 2012, the field was delayed because heavy rains disrupted several processes. Then issues with top seeding called for hydro seeding to be redone.

Funded primarily by funds from the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, the field was completed in 2013. However, divots and other minor issues kept the field from receiving initial certification and seeing any play. The delay meant that all UVI Men's Soccer games had to be played on the road – an additional challenge for a budding soccer team.

But on Oct. 4, the excitement was high and UVI pride was evident. About 100 people from the UVI community and the community at-large gathered on the field to witness the historic moment.

“We are here to unveil the best soccer field in the Virgin Islands,” UVI President Dr. David Hall said at the ribbon cutting ceremony that was held before the inaugural game. “Athletics on this campus is moving to another level,” he said. Dr. Hall also noted UVI's newly hired full-time Head Coach Dr. David Santesteban. “We are so glad that he's going to be guiding our young men and the athletic program on (St. Croix),” Dr. Hall said, noting a similar arrangement with the basketball program on St. Thomas. “This is a new era for us and for these young men.”

Buccaneer soccer team poses after the inaugural homegame on St. Croix.
Coach Santesteban said he couldn't ask for a better inaugural game. “We got support from everyone,” Santesteban said, noting the eager players and the administrators who worked hard to get the field LAI-certified. “What they did here is second to none,” Santesteban said. “They have raised the level.”

The 2014 Buccaneers feature a 15 man roster, with five from the St. Thomas Campus and 10 from the Sheen Campus. Team members are Jordan Atemazem, Maxwell Daniels, Garfield Ferdinand, co-captain Kimani George, Jahidi Gussie, Damien James, Gejae Jeffers, Peter Oculien, Gilbert Roberts, Christopher Rosario, co-captain Denny Smith, Caleb Tavernier, Josiah Telesford, Ismail H. Yusuf and Ismail S. Yusuf.

In their introduction on the field, each member of both teams was escorted by young players from the VI Soccer Association Youth players and the AYSO Youth players. The children received soccer balls from UVI. President Hall heralded them as the next generation of UVI soccer players, to cheers from their parents. 

Nereida Washington, director of Campus Operations on St. Croix, said the field is for all students. “It was developed with an eye toward delivering physical education classes that will help enhance the athletic opportunities for all our students,” she said. 

While the University's goal is for long-term success for the athletic and soccer programs, Smith's goals are more immediate. He plans to lead the team to more wins and into the league playoffs. And given the team’s make up, it is possible.

“This is the strongest team we've had in the past three years,” Smith said. 


Monday, September 29, 2014

Miss UVI Brings Home National Crown

Miss UVI Elisa Thomas is crowned Miss National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Queen on Sept. 27 in Atlanta.

Miss UVI Elisa Thomas made history when she won the title of Miss National Black College Alumni (NBCA) Hall of Fame – becoming the first Miss UVI to win that crown.

At the competition held from Sept. 24 to Sept. 28, in Atlanta, Elisa bested 29 other college queens from Historically Black Colleges and University’s (HBCU) around the country for the title of Miss NBCA Hall of Fame. In addition to winning the crown, she won the “Hats and Heels” segment of the competition.

The NBCA queen contestants are judged in four categories, including talent, poise, image, and personal and private interviews where the contestant has up to two minutes to introduce herself and discuss her platform. Miss UVI’s platform was domestic violence awareness. As Miss NBCA, Elisa will serve as a national representative and advocate of HBCUs, and will receive an academic scholarship and other prizes.

UVI has been represented at the Miss NBCA Hall of Fame pageant for many years and several UVI queens have placed in the top five. Elisa is the first Miss UVI to win the crown.
The NBCA competition is sponsored by the NCBA Hall of Fame organization, which is dedicated to the growth and development of HBCUs through scholarships, internships, training and technical assistance, alumni recognition, and programs to encourage humanitarian involvement.

Here’s a selection of comments from the UVI social media sites. A stunning array of photos is also available on these Facebook pages.

Miss UVI Elisa Thomas with her NCAB Crown.
Click photos for larger view.
UVI Facebook Page – http://facebook.com/UVI.edu

  • Bonita Bradley Congratulations! Your Queen is PHENOMENAL! Truly a beautiful woman! She represented your institution with Grace, Elegance, Poise, and Class!
  • Sally L. Browne – Go UVI !!!!!CONGRATULATIONS !!!!!
  • Alicia Barzey – Congrats Eliza!!!!!!_
  • Davis LaVerne – Congratulations beautiful lady! you have done us proud!


STX Student Activities Page – http://www.facebook.com/studentactivities.stx

  • Dale Morton – Congratulations Elisa and your team.
  • Andrea Wilson – Congratulations MS Elisa Thomas and the committee that accompanied her. We are very proud of you. iRep UVI
  • Kimberlee I'msolovingmerightnow Smith – Congratulations Elisa Thomas I am so proud of you.
  • Joshua Emmanuel Edwards – Congratulations Queen Elisa Thomas honor and Grace is yours. Blessings to your committee and all who supported you and encourage you to succeed.
  • J Millin Young – So happy for our Queen Elisa!
  • Beyond Elegance – Words can't explain the Joy in my Heart!!! My Gem.. Queen Elisa Thomas.. Congrats from your fellow Gems & I... We are proud of... My ppl UVI on the raise.. this is jus the beginning she made History... 1st Miss UVI to become Miss NBCA .... Andrea Wilson this year will be Epic.....
  • PerAnkh Khamniversity – Congratulations!!!! Well deserved! Reign well and enjoy the experience so that HBCUs in the USA know about the Virgin Islands. Yeh meh son!
  • Senator-Myron D. Jackson – Congratulations! Job well done!
  • Claude Steele – Congratulations. So Proud!
  • Miriam Osborne Elliott – Awesome achievement! So Very Proud of You All! Continue to Soar!


STT Student Activities Page – http://www.facebook.com/UVIStudentActivitiesSTT

  • Nolma Eddy – I predict that she will be the 1st ever to represent the Virgin Island at the Miss USA pageant and win! She is soooooo beautiful! I know Marie shining down from heaven right now!
  • Karen Gutloff – So proud of Elisa. Beautiful, talented, and Smart!
  • Beranice StunninglyNatural Wade-Westerman RN – Beautiful!!! Congratulations... 
  • Mayda Pereira – Congrats and you look beautiful! 
  • Colleen Mae Williams – Congrats Bubbles!! 
  • Florinell Joseph – Job well done Elisa, nothing but the best!. Congratulations!!! And thank you for representing the Virgin Islands so well. 
  • Denise Fahie – Yeah Bubbles!!!! 
  • Marcia Thomas – Uncle is looking down at his queen from heaven about.The skies the limit cuz Thomas family is so proud of you. 
  • Pretty Brown Eyz – Congratulations Elisa........EXCELLENT JOB!!!!!! 
  • Suzie Richardson-Bruno – She is so beautiful....congrats mama 
  • Staying-Faithful Dee – Beautiful young lady; well poised in that regal gown...CONGRATULATIONS 
  • Terry Wynn Cody – That gown is beautiful.. 
  • Monica Ryan – Gorgeous gown. 
  • Sonia Frett-Colbourne – Beautiful............... Keep it up Sweetheart. 
  • Anastasia Not'Nyce Smith – CongratsElisaThomas...job well done 
  • Rima Davis – Elisa you are simply amazing! Congrats!!! 
  • Irma A Lake – Love the dress 
  • Tessa Liburd – Congrats Elisa. 
  • Gerda Hughes de Morales – So awesome!!!! 
  • Craigitoo Rico – Wooow. Miss over-dressed!!!!! Congratulations to you!
  • Beverly Thomas-Benjamin – Congrats cuz!
  • Nika Davis – She looks gorgeous and Congrats to her 
  • Alnesah Popo-Febres Skee-wee – Congrats .. She looks stunning
  • Dee Thomas – Great job!

Thomas captured the 2014-2015 Miss UVI title at the 34th Annual Miss UVI Ambassadorial Competition on April 12, at the Reichhold Center for the Arts on St. Thomas. The twenty-year-old Thomas also took home the titles Most Intellectual Speaker, Best Performing Talent, Best Business Wear, Best Ambassadorial Presentation and Best Evening Wear during the show.


She received a full year UVI scholarship that includes tuition, room and board. The junior communication major was born on St. Thomas and attends UVI on the St. Thomas campus. She aspires to work as a news anchor, host events, and produce and host her own local television show. Miss UVI serves as a goodwill ambassador for the university, including participating in UVI's recruitment efforts, representing the University locally and abroad, and maintaining a highly visible role on UVI's campuses on St. Thomas and St. Croix.

Monday, August 18, 2014

V.I.’s Top Graduates to Attend UVI

UVI students Lizbeth Carrasquillo and Ryan Shaw will attend classes this Fall on UVI's Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.
Central High School valedictorian Ryan Shaw and Central High School salutatorian Lizbeth Carrasquillo had both decided to pursue higher education on the United States mainland – until they visited UVI’s Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.

Carrasquillo was always open to attending UVI, but selected a college in Florida. Then she attended “Preparing for the Next Generation of Hispanic Leaders,” a UVI – sponsored Hispanic outreach program held in June. That changed everything for Carrasquillo.

“Students were describing their experiences and I got to know people who actually enjoy their UVI experience,” Carrasquillo says. One of the student experiences that truly moved her was the story of a young man who didn’t think he was college material, until he applied to UVI. The young man enjoyed various experiences like participating in the University’s radio station, WUVI 1090 AM, and joining the UVI Bucs basketball team – realizing previously untapped potential. By the time the outreach event had ended Carrasquillo knew she was coming to UVI.

Carrasquillo will major in business. “I am excited for the new experience,” she says. She plans to take her first semester slow and focus on her studies until she can get a feel of what college life is like, then get involved in other activities at UVI in her sophomore year. After completing her degree, she plans to open her own business.

Ryan Shaw was encouraged by his neighbor to attend UVI. Still, he felt like he needed more information. “I went to Ms. Towal and I learned that UVI has more to offer than I thought,” he says. UVI Counseling Supervisor Patricia Towal told Shaw about UVI’s biology program and opportunities for research with other institutions. When Shaw left Towal’s St. Croix office, his mind was made up – he was coming to UVI.

Shaw has decided to start his freshman year on the Albert A. Sheen Campus and is looking forward to a smooth transition. Self-described as sociable and friendly, Shaw expects that his new living situation will be pleasant.

“I do enjoy a bit of research,” says Shaw, who is looking forward to taking on research projects while at the University. “I love discovering new things.” After earning his degree in biology from UVI, he plans to study medicine. He is still contemplating a field to specialize in.

Central High School Principal Janesee Sinclair supports UVI and says that the institution is comparable to any on the mainland. UVI offers a nurturing environment and puts students on the right track, she says. She added that UVI President David Hall and UVI’s faculty and staff are supportive of the students and families in the territory.

UVI provides scholarships for the valedictorians and salutatorians from Virgin Islands’ high schools.

In addition to Shaw and Carrasquillo, eleven other 2014 valedictorians and salutatorians have indicated they will enroll at UVI this fall. They are:
  • Jakobi Peets - salutatorian, All Saints Cathedral School 
  • Sherika Jacobs - salutatorian, Charlotte Amalie High School 
  • Rodney Querrad - valedictorian, Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School 
  • Carishma Marsh ­- valedictorian, St. Thomas Seventh Day Adventist 
  • Kamira Webster - salutatorian, St. Thomas Seventh Day Adventist 
  • Jean Devera - salutatorian, Good Hope/Country Day  
  • Amelle Williams - valedictorian, St. Croix Seventh Day Adventist 
  • Shaquan Lewis - salutatorian, St. Croix Seventh Day Adventist 
  • Cody Cook ­ valedictorian, A-Z Academy 
  • Ameer Donaie - valedictorian, IQRA Academy 
  • Huda Qattum - salutatorian, IQRA Academy
UVI welcomes all new and returning students for the Fall 2014 semester.





Tuesday, August 5, 2014

UVI Students Present their Work at Summer Research Symposium



The University of the Virgin Islands hosted the Summer Research Symposium on Friday, Aug. 1, in the Administration and Conference Center on the St. Thomas Campus. The goal of the summer symposium is to showcase student research at UVI as well as other institutions. UVI undergraduate students Sheresia Gumbs (pink shirt), Krislen Tison and Sherika Alexis worked together to determine if frogs on St. Thomas were infected with Chytrid Fungus, which is hazardous to their health. About 17 presentations were made by undergraduate students. Some of their topics include:
Lionfish invasion
Parasite burdens of hair sheep lambs
The Extraction, Quantification and Toxicity of Citral from Lemongrass
Antioxidant Activity of Herbs and Spices
Telescopes & Limiting magnitudes
Weather patterns and Erosion in the USVI
Complexometric Titration using Platinum Sensing Electrodes
Foraging Patterns of of Elysia crispata
Intimate Partner Abuse of Women in the Virgin Islands
Conch Locomotion
The Cultivation of Thalassia testudinum and Halophila stipulacea For Conservation Motivation in Learning: Game-based vs. Traditional
University of the Virgin Islands student Yentyle Levet (right) presents her project on ‘Motivation in Digital Game-Based Learning.’ 
University of the Virgin Islands student Ruel Mitchel explains his research
on ‘Neutron Stars’ to UVI Mathematics professor Dr. Robert Stolz.

University of the Virgin Islands student Stephen Santana presented the results of his research on ‘Assessing Land Cover Change on St. Thomas.’ Santana was among many UVI researchers to discuss their work at the Summer Research Symposium in the Administration and Conference Center on the St. Thomas Campus.



University of the Virgin Islands student Eliakin del Rosario (right) presented his research on ‘Malware Signature Detection: A Comparison Between Brute Force and Boyer-Moore’ on Aug. 1 at the Summer  Research Symposium.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Education & Fun is all part of the UVI Junior University Experience

University of the Virgin Islands Junior University physical education instructor Mark Daniel conducts an exhibition game in the University's Sports and Fitness Center.

 Junior University is an intensive five-week program for boys who did not pass seventh grade but showed promise. It is a collaborative initiative of the University of the Virgin Islands and the Education Department St. Thomas-St. John School District. There are 100 enrolled in the summer 2014 edition of the program.

  
 Junior University students take part in basket 
ball tournament in UVI's Sports and Fitness Center. 
Junior University students work
on a math problem.

UVI Junior University students take interest in a mathematics lesson taught by Robyn Carlin, a visiting master teacher from Louisiana State University.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

UVI Workshop Provides Innovative Teaching Method to VI STEM Educators

Robyn Carlin, a master teacher from the GeauxTeach Program at Louisiana State University, teaches University of the Virgin Islands Junior University students.

This summer, some science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers territory-wide opted to become students. Fifty elementary, high school and college educators participated in an innovative workshop designed to entice students to learn. The UVI Teach Inquiry-Based Learning STEPs 1 and 2 for STEM Teachers Workshop was conducted for STEM teachers territory-wide with experience or interest in using inquiry-based learning in math or science.

Inquiry-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning that places questions, ideas and observations of students at the center of the learning experience. Educators play an active role throughout the process by establishing a culture where ideas are respectfully challenged, tested, redefined and viewed as improvable. This moves children from a position of wondering to a position of understanding and further questioning.

“This has been one of the better workshops that I have attended,” says Nneka Howard-Sibilly, Charlotte Amalie High School biology teacher and Science Department chair. “Walking away from it, I have a lot of tangible information that I can utilize in my classroom right away and be able to help other teachers.”

She says that this workshop has gotten her closer to her goal of having tools on how to make her classroom more inquiry-based and geared toward the Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Standards set to come on-line.

Fourth grade Lockhart Elementary School teacher Diana Tyson signed up for the workshop because she has a strong love for science and mathematics. “It has been extremely informative,” says Tyson. “I am learning a great deal about inquiry-based learning and letting the students explore and learn through their own investigations.” Tyson, who has taught for 15 years, was named Teacher of the Year in the St. Thomas-St. John District in the 2013-2014 School Year.

“It will definitely, I hope, increase and improve not only teacher effectiveness, but student achievement,” she says. “We are learning strategies that we can use to help better implement what is expected of our students from the Common Core State Standards.”

“This was a tremendous workshop,” says St. Croix Educational Complex High School mathematics teacher Dianne Theophilus. “The information that has been shared will assist me in becoming a better mathematics educator. I will also be able to use what I've learnt to assist my colleagues.”

UVI Teach is a secondary STEM teacher training program being developed at the University. It is a joint effort between the UVI College of Science and Mathematics, the School of Education and the V.I. Department of Education (VI DOE). It is adapted from the UTeach Program, a nationally recognized, innovative, and successful teacher preparation program for students majoring in science, mathematics, and computer science. The UTeach program was developed at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1997. Thirty-nine other universities around the country are now implementing the program. The UVI Teach program places emphasis on field-based, hands-on learning opportunities for future STEM teachers. “Since 2011, Provost McKayle has been leading this Noyce project to make UVI one of the pioneering HBCUs to implement a UTeach program,” said UVI Teach Program Director Dr. Celil Ekici.

Conducting the UVI STEM Teacher’s Workshop was a pivotal step towards launching the UVI Teach program. UVI and the VI DOE collaborated to bring this workshop to educators in the territory. Robyn Carlin, a master teacher from the GeauxTeach Program at Louisiana State University, taught inquiry-based teaching in mathematics, while Lynn Kirby, a master teacher from UTeach at Austin, taught science. They alternated teaching on the St. Thomas Campus and Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, switching campuses one week into the training. UVI Associate Professor of Education Dr. Nancy Morgan helped to demonstrate the integration of various content areas, including literacy. VI DOE STEM Director Karissa Poszywak served as co-trainer to make content more relevant for STEM teachers in the territory.

“The overall goals are to help teachers experience inquiry-based learning in action and learn to apply it in their own practices as math and science teachers,” says Dr. Ekici. “They will learn to orient UVI Teach students coming to their classroom towards learning and facilitating inquiry-based lessons as future STEM teachers.”

During a workshop session in July 2014, educators were able to observe Carlin as she taught mathematics to middle school boys who were a part of UVI’s Junior University Summer Enrichment Program. Carlin used a variety of 3D foam shapes to teach students how to understand fractions and turn those fractions into mathematical word problems and equations. The students, working in four groups of four, actively participated in their own learning. While the students learned mathematics, the UVI Tech Workshop participants observed the lesson.

Dr. Ekici says the practice session was intended to allow participants to gain a deeper sense of inquiry-based STEM learning and teaching in practice. “It was intended to provide students and practitioners with a rich and genuine experience to build their own local practices for the inquiry-based STEM teaching/learning in our territorial schools,” he says.

Nneka Howard-Sibilly has asked that teachers be able to observe an inquiry-based lesson for some time. “It is one thing to say what an inquiry-based system is supposed to look like, but when you can actually see somebody stand in front of you and model it in front of live students – to be able to see the responses of students and observe the differences in questioning – I think that is what teachers need to see more of in order to better themselves,” she says.

UVI Works to Implement UVI Teach Program

The UVI Teach Program is being developed under the leadership of UVI Provost Dr. Camille McKayle, UVI Dean of the School of Education Dr. Linda Thomas and Dean of the School of Science and Mathematics Dr. Sandra Romano. Dr. Ekici is spearheading this collaborative effort. It is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is part of the Robert Noyce Capacity Building Grant designed to develop and implement a secondary STEM teacher training program at UVI. Noyce Capacity Building Projects provide an opportunity for institutions to establish the infrastructure and partnerships for implementing a future Noyce Teacher Scholarship or NSF Teaching Fellowship. This grant had two major goals. One is to develop UVI Teach as a STEM teacher preparation program building on the basics of the UTeach model. Second, is conducting STEM education research to provide research-based and locally effective STEM education training programs. Several UVI professors are part of the UVI Teach collaborative team including, Dr. Ekici, Dr. Steven Greenstein, Dr. Nancy Morgan, Dr. Michelle Peterson, Dr. Marc Boumedine, Dr. Rita Howard, Dr. Judith Bloch and Ms. Danielle DeGain. They are under the supervision of Provost McKayle.

UVI Teach is integrating inquiry-based learning activities into UVI's developmental mathematics classes including, Mathematics 023 and 024 and introductory science courses such as Science 100, with peers, mentors, and master teachers trained to use the 5Es of inquiry based learning. The 5Es are engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration and evaluation.

The 5 E Learning Cycle Model

Engagement 
  • Object, event or question used to engage students 
  • Connections facilitated between what students know and can do 
Exploration
  • Objects and phenomena are explored 
  • Hands-on activities, with guidance 
Explanation
  • Students explain their understanding of concepts and processes 
  • New concepts and skills are introduced as conceptual clarity and cohesion are sought 
Elaboration
  • Activities allow students to apply concepts in contexts, and build on or extend understanding and skill 
Evaluation
  • Students assess their knowledge, skills and abilities. 
  • Activities permit evaluation of student development and lesson effectiveness
UVI Teach St. Thomas Site Coordinator Dr. Marc Boumedine says that when the program is implemented, students interested in teaching STEM subjects will receive a bachelor’s degree in their field and be able to teach secondary education, once they have met the requirements of the School of Education and the Virgin Islands Board of Education. He says this program will allow UVI STEM students who wish to become educators to finish their degrees sooner.





Monday, July 14, 2014

University Bound Programs Underway on St. Thomas and St. Croix

More than 50 students from throughout the territory are living and taking courses on UVI's campuses on St. Thomas and St. Croix, as they participate in 2014 summer residential component of the University Bound college preparatory program. The programs are designed to generate the skills and motivation that lead to academic success for students in high school and beyond.

The six-week program - with 33 students on St. Thomas and 21 on St. Croix - continue through July 18. The students recently posed for class photos. Click photos to enlarge.

St. Thomas Campus - University Bound - Summer 2014

Albert A. Sheen Campus - St. Croix - University Bound - Summer 2014