Marge Anderson, owner and director of the i5 Teaching Network LLC, has been a teaching teachers and faciliting education for more than 20 years. The Pfizer researcher has made contacts across the world and she is in a unique position to bring those cross-cultural contacts to Gales Ferry. Marge's hold many of the education workshops in the .
i5 Teaching Network is a unique program, how does your background support your curriculum?
Anderson said she has 39 years at Pfizer, nineteen of them in anti-bacterial infection research. Also, more than 20 years involvement in Pfizer K-12 education outreach programs including 10 years half-time as program coordinator of SMART! (Science and Math Are Really Terrific!) at the Groton site. Also served half-time as an Advisor to the Pfizer Foundation in New York, assisting global Pfizer sites in setting up education outreach programs or expanding existing ones. She was volunteer in SMART! Programs including job shadowing, SAMJAM, bringing science kits to schools, presentations, tours, mentoring, etc.
Anderson said she coordinated teacher workshops in several states and countries, most often in Connecticut and in Cork, Limerick, and Dublin, Ireland on such topics as green chemistry, green math, biotechnology, and forensic science. Anderson was awarded the 2010 Irish Science Educator of the year, sponsored by PharmaChem Ireland, for providing exceptional professional development opportunities for Irish educators both in Ireland and the US.
Tell me about i5 Teaching Network?
The mission of i5 Teaching Network LLC is to provide innovative education initiatives that are based on inquiry and interaction, promote inclusion of all cultures and learning abilities, and are international in scope. While originally teacher-centric, i5 is now encouraging interested non-educator adults and college-age students to participate in our workshops. This more flexible enrollment is in response to feedback from teachers who have stated that they prefer to have non-teachers in workshops because the diversity of experience adds diversity of perspective.
With the exception of a few special instances, i5 Teaching Network has not provided programs for children but we will be coordinating some youth activities for the Gales Ferry Community Center such as the Magic Camp this summer. We also co-sponsored the Draw On! Program in collaboration with GFCC, although this was for all ages. Programs for teens and children can be accommodated if requested and if they fit within our mission.
What is the philosophy of i5 Teaching Network?
i5 Teaching Network believes that access to cutting-edge education, especially in reading, science, math, technology, and the arts, is required to understand our world and instill the motivation to create employment that supports innovation and sustainable use of resources. We also believe that when teachers and students enjoy the learning process, engagement and sustained interest of both is more likely to occur.
We believe that only when the majority of the general public is aware of, if not proficient in, new technologies and scientific discoveries, will there be the necessary support of education funding and student achievement that will lead to future discovery and resources that could reduce poverty and sustain biodiversity. Therefore, i5 Teaching Network promotes education outreach in communities where we live and work.
What's coming up at i5?
We have many great summer all-day workshops in science, arts and culture for adults (post-high-school). Many of these such as the art therapy and Zentangle sessions offer ideas for using art for children and adults challenged by attention, cognitive and behavioral problems but are fun and stress releasing for all.
The Arts & Culture Immersion Series offer unique programs by artists from diverse culture that include history and an ethnic lunch that reflects the particular region. This summer’s artists are natives of Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, India, China and the Mohegan Tribe. Our artists are cognizant of the poor economy and strive to make their workshops a fun and uplifting respite from the problems people are facing.
We offer CEUs for teachers and some of our sessions qualify for graduate credit through Adams State University in Colorado. And i5 will be hosting monthly art exhibits in our new i5 Education Center and Gallery within GFCC.
Our commitment to inclusion, diversity, and community will manifest itself in several exciting offerings this fall during Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15. In addition to cultural immersion workshops, we will be holding family events. Creative Connections will be holding a workshop that includes videoconferencing to Guatemala. Other cultural events are expected to take place throughout the year, some co-sponsored by GFCC and other organizations.
Where do you see yourself and/or i5 in 5 years? 10 years?
Hopefully, alive and still kicking. I would love to see i5 as a part of a vibrant arts community in Gales Ferry. We seem to be appealing more and more to a non-educator audience so perhaps our future will mean less emphasis on classroom adaptations and more on addressing issues of community awareness of science and the arts.
What brought you to Gales Ferry and why did you choose to settle in Gales Ferry?
I came to the region when I was first married as my husband was starting a job at EB. We lived for 9 months in the off-season at a summer home in Niantic, moved to New London for several years, then Ledyard. We rescued an 18th century house in Scotland, CT that had badly burned and renovated it. Our son was attending a school in Norwich but when he was to enter 5th grade, we decided to move closer to work and chose Gales Ferry because we had liked renting in Ledyard previously. My son had friends here, and because of the schools and semi-rural life-style.
What changes have you seen in the industry/ies you're involved in?
Not enough change – especially in early childhood education and for tutoring for those who struggle - and not enough funding and staffing to support the little that does change. The main differences that I see from my early days with the SMART! Program include the integration of technology, an increase in students who do not speak English, a widening disparity in opportunities for a good education, much less support for our schools including funding, volunteers, and donated materials and equipment from private sources, and decreasing support for teachers . THE TEST” has become the goal rather than a tool and many, including myself, feel that assessment is necessary but this obsession with test scores stymies creativity that is needed to compete globally.
Does i5 accommodate or cater to those changes and if so, how?
We can’t do much to alter those issues that are a result of poor funding or the current economy but we can address the need for more focus on innovation and cultural cooperation.
Currently, we are not offering a many science programs as we would like because teachers and administrators are waiting for the new standards to be approved to see what content will need to be added to the curricula and what professional training needs can be identified.
In the meantime, we are continuing with forensic science programs because forensics includes skills in all sciences, plus medicine, math, ethics, law, social studies, art, communications and technology. And it is outstanding for teaching observation and inquiry skills needed for any job from research to the production line.
In my experience, there is no other academic area that engages parental interest in their child’s schoolwork more that forensics because of the familiarity with it on television. Even those who have little comprehension of some of the science will at least look at homework.
We are also investigating potential opportunities to collaborate on new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs as well as the new concept – STEAM – which recognizes the importance of adding arts to an integrated curriculum.
Another way that i5 is attempting to stay innovative is to assist educators with global learning opportunities. This is not taking a dozen chosen kids to Europe or Central America but instead using technology to connect all students in the classroom with peers in other cultures. This is how business people communicate in the real world.
We partner with organizations such as Creative Connections which uses technology to offer global insight into how areas with few resources are using art and environmental awareness to teach children respect for the earth and its inhabitants.
What are 1-3 things people/parents/students should know about i5?
Our programs are innovative, fun, non-intimidating, and taught by outstanding, passionate, professionals in the field. The most important “I” in i5 is inclusion.
We are always open to suggestions for new programs and collaborations.