Local teachers excited to learn at Wiregrass leadership academy

Dothan Police Cpl. Jeremy Conner leads a bomb squad robot demonstration during the Wiregrass leadership academy in Dothan.

Dothan Police Cpl. Jeremy Conner leads a bomb squad robot demonstration during the Wiregrass leadership academy in Dothan.

At times, the teachers resembled their own students during the third day of the Wiregrass Math, Science and Technology Leadership Academy at Troy University’s Dothan Campus.

As Dothan Police Cpl. Jeremy Conner led one of his bomb squad robots into the Harrison Room of Malone Hall, the dozens of area teachers couldn’t hide their childlike sense of awe, snapping pictures and capturing videos with their phones.

Local teachers pose with the Dothan Police bomb squad robot and Cpl. Jeremy Conner during the WIregrass Math, Science and Technology Leadership Academy.

“This would blow the minds of our kids,” said Donna Norwalk, a sixth grade math and science teacher at Abbeville Elementary. “It’s blown my mind.”

Conner led a demonstration of the robot’s capabilities as part of the science portion of the Academy, a series of professional development workshops aimed at providing quality professional development for teachers in the areas of math, science and technology.

Robotics play a major role in the Academy, as teachers learn ways to lead their students in hands-on projects to teach them the practical applications of their math and science skills.

“The integration of technology with math and science is something that, coming from a Title I school, I think my students would really benefit from,” said Kaleena Craddock, a second grade teacher at Grandview Elementary. “So far it’s been very interesting. The robot demonstration was really cool.”

For teachers, the workshops are a valuable resource.

“I just wanted to learn more about science,” Norwalk said. “There’s always more to learn, and I wanted to have as much as I could take back to our kids in Abbeville. I’m getting a lot of information that I didn’t have or even that I had wrong, and I’m finding so many interesting ways to get our kids to really think.”

The Academy, sponsored by TROY and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, also gives the teachers free kits they can use for lesson plans in the classroom.

Norwalk and Craddock agreed that area teachers need events like this to improve the quality of education for their students.

“All teachers, especially here at Dothan City Schools, are looking for different ways to be innovative and effective in the classroom, so any professional development workshops like this are very useful,” Craddock said.

The Academy lasts through Wednesday, July 19.