In 1995, leaders of the OERB made it their mission to bolster the science, math and engineering courses being taught in Oklahoma schools. And teachers from around the state couldn’t have agreed more. So, with the support of the oil and natural gas industry, teachers rolled up their sleeves and went to work. What began as one elementary curriculum, has steadily grown into a K-12 multi-discipline program with nine separate curricula aligned to science, math, ELA and social studies standards.
Executive Director, Mindy Stitt recalls sending out the first OERB teacher kits in cardboard boxes from her office and home garage. Today, the operation is housed in an 8,000 square-foot warehouse in Enid, Okla., where over 300 teaching items are organized and given to Oklahoma teachers in nearly every school district.
Susan Christian, a 3rd grade teacher at Broadmoore Elementary, in Moore, Okla., was one of the original 12 master teachers and helped develop ‘Fossils to Fuel 2’ – the OERB’s second elementary curriculum. She has been actively involved with the OERB for more than 20 years. Christian sees the impact these hands-on lessons have on teachers and students every day.
“The OERB takes care of Oklahoma teachers and children. Because if you’re helping the teachers and putting these tools in their hands, you’re helping the kids,” Susan Christian said.
The OERB now holds 14 workshops across the state every year where master teachers guide other teachers through the lessons. Teachers who attend a workshop receive a stipend to cover travel expenses and leave with up to $1,100 worth of free teaching materials customized for their grade. And in this time of education funding shortfalls, that makes a huge difference.
“It’s like a kid at Christmas, they say, ‘I get all this?’ And I’ve seen teachers literally cry when they open the kits because they don’t have anything like this for their kids,” Christian said.
As educational standards change to include more science, technology, engineering and math, the curricula evolves with them. Teachers continuously evaluate and update the programs, then field test and make any needed adjustments before they are provided to teachers across the state. No one is more passionate about making quality educational resources.
“From the very beginning, Oklahoma teachers have been the ones who write the OERB curricula. As education standards change, teachers come back and do the revisions,” said Mindy Stitt, OERB Executive Director, adding; “Our program is always evolving and our teachers love the fact that it’s aligned with the newest education standards.”
To date, over 15,000 teachers have utilized these educational resources that incorporate math and science concepts with Oklahoma applications. Each year nearly 1,500 more sign up for the program. Watch the video above to see how the OERB’s curricula is expanding to help more Oklahoma teachers and students than ever.