Educating Our Educators
by Mary Anne Weber
When Houston Audubon first began offering tours and classes to local schoolchildren and scouts it became obvious that we were not only educating our youth but also the teachers and chaperones that accompanied the group. In the year 2000, we expanded this educational effort and began offering Project WILD workshops that enabled certified teachers to gain much needed continuing professional education credit hours. We continue this effort with the many Flying WILD workshops offered across the region every year.
In 1999, the Texas Education Agency created a new certification process. No longer were certified teachers given lifetime provisional certificates. Now, certified teachers must renew their teaching license every five years and in order to renew they must complete 150 credit hours from approved CPE providers. All Continuing Professional Education (CPE) providers must be approved and registered by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) and Texas Education Agency. This registration ensures that activities offered for CPE credit support the professional growth of educators in the knowledge and skills necessary to improve student achievement in Texas public schools. Only those CPE activities from approved registered providers will be recognized for certificate renewal purposes.
The typical Flying WILD workshop gives an educator 3 credit hours to go toward the 150-hour goal. In addition to the standard CPE hours, Houston Audubon's Education Department workshops and adult classes can also go towards TEEAC credit hours.
TEEAC stands for the Texas Environmental Education Advisory Committee. TEEAC coordinates with other state, regional, and local agencies that are charged with the development of environmental education materials. TEEAC cooperates with a network of providers of environmental education professional development, including universities, state agencies, museums, and nature centers. This network of TEEAC Providers helps assure that teacher professional development offered by formal and non-formal providers is educationally sound.