“Eyes on me,” says Alison Garza, and 20 fourth grade heads lift up from microscopes.
To understand the value of Irvine Unified School District’s Excellence in Education program, look no further than the science lab at Stonegate Elementary School.
This is where Garza – IUSD’s Elementary Science Teacher of the Year – and her young charges conduct experiments, mix compounds in test tubes, and peer into state-of-the- art microscopes twice a week.
“I have the best job,” Garza says. “When I was in elementary school, we didn’t have this.”
Instead of just reading textbooks, her students can touch, smell and feel the subject in the lab. After class, one student says she wants to be a doctor, while Prithvi Oduru, 9, says, “Someday, I want to invent a scientific discovery to help the world.”
Garza’s hands-on science instruction is funded by the Excellence in Education Enrichment Program, which provides science, art and music teachers to IUSD students in grades four through six.
Already, nearly 100,000 elementary students have benefited from these classes, which usually are taught only in secondary school.
“I work with the best team of science specialists,” Garza says. “I feel like I am where I am because of them. Irvine is the best place to be.”