Science teacher assigned to Pride Explorer: Leslie Ann Bridgett of Westlake High School in Waldorf has been named the Pride of Baltimore II's first "Teacher Aboard."

The Education Beat

December 03, 1997|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

THIS HAS to be a science teacher's all-time dream assignment.

You join the Pride of Baltimore II on its first visit to the Far East. Using a laptop computer and a digital camera, you transmit daily logs and pictures by satellite to the Pride's Internet site (, where they augment a curriculum designed for older elementary and middle school children.

You're no longer a teacher at Westlake High, Waldorf, Md., USA. Now you're a teacher in any classroom in the world with a computer and modem.

Leslie Ann Bridgett, a science teacher at Westlake, yesterday was named the Pride's first "Teacher Aboard." She's the Maryland winner of a Christa McAuliffe Fellowship, named for the educator who perished in the Challenger shuttle explosion in 1986.

McAuliffe was to have explored space, and Bridgett said yesterday that her trip to Asia and the Pacific Rim also will be a kind of experimental journey through space. "People forget that Charles Darwin was only 23 when he was sent out by scientists," she said. "I feel like I'm being sent out, and in a sense I am."

Bridgett, 46, will be doing some science during her winter and spring aboard the Pride, collecting data on plankton for scientists at the Columbus Center.

The Teacher Aboard is as Maryland as crabs: born in Baltimore; educated in Baltimore County and at the University of Maryland, College Park; student teacher in Howard County; 25 years a classroom teacher in Calvert, Anne Arundel and Charles counties.

Bridgett was introduced by sundry officials yesterday at Patapsco Elementary School in Baltimore's Cherry Hill. "She won over some stiff competition," said Nancy S. Grasmick, state schools superintendent.

"Actually, I think what helped me was my experience sailing," Bridgett said. "I once sailed from Annapolis to Bermuda on a 32-foot boat with seven people. You have to know how to get along with other humans in close quarters to sail on the Pride."

Bridgett helped set up a "sister school" arrangement between Westlake and a school in Kazakstan. In China, she'll be doing the same thing for pupils at Patapsco, who presented her with a gift yesterday -- a scrapbook to show their new friends on the other side of the world.

Morgan receives $1 million to aid low-income students

Morgan State University has secured a $1 million federal grant to help low-income students pursue careers in mathematics and the sciences.

The gap between the technology "haves" and "have-nots" is widening, according to a number of recent studies. Most of the schools without access to the Internet are in poor neighborhoods. The most recent data from the Census Bureau show the percentage of white children with home computers is three times higher than the percentage of black and Hispanic youths.

"It's sad that so many capable students come to us who lack the tools to make a life for themselves and their communities," says Eugene DeLoatch, dean of the Morgan school of engineering.

The grant to Morgan comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and was announced on the campus Monday by Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. It will fund tutorial programs in math and computer science for public housing residents, help students learn the art of technical writing and help identify Baltimore public school students who might go after degrees in science, engineering and math.

"There is a paradox here," says Earl Richardson, Morgan's president. "Our campus is entirely wired for computers, and yet the vast majority of our freshmen have no computers at home and little training at computers.

"Look at Northern High School," the troubled North Baltimore school with which Morgan has entered a partnership. "There's one computer lab over there for 1,800 students."

Lectures tell what's wrong with education

Good thing nothing major broke out in Baltimore County schools Monday.

While school was on as usual, all 160 principals and 900 other teachers, parents and business leaders were at Martin's West hearing one of education's gurus describe what's wrong with public education and how it can be fixed, some of which was reported in The Sun yesterday.

Willard R. Daggett, president of the International Center for Leadership in Education, is a spellbinding speaker. His image was flashed on two huge screens while he delivered three lectures.

He said students holding jobs of the future will need to know statistics, logic, probability and "measurement systems." U.S. schools aren't delivering; schools in such formerly benighted places as Eastern Europe are racing ahead, he maintained.

We're too hung up on time and specialization, two hangovers from the industrial revolution, Daggett said. The first grade doesn't flow into the second. The first period doesn't flow into the second. Science teachers don't teach reading. We count the number of days in the school year, the number of college credits needed to teach reading, but we pay comparatively little attention to the quality of the instruction.

U.S. schools, said Daggett, deliver "content without context." Kids take algebra but never learn how to use it. We "teach it, we test it, and then we lose it."

Pub Date: 12/03/97

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