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Here’s one thing your child’s teacher may have done this summer

August 03, 2016   By Willard Strong in

Teachers have some selfie fun at Santee Cooper's Energy Educators Institute this summer.

In a few weeks, the state’s public school teachers go back to work, but do you know how nearly 85 educators from across South Carolina spent the summer?

For the 31st consecutive year, classroom teachers and administrative personnel spent a week at Santee Cooper’s Wampee Conference Center in Pinopolis, S.C.

It’s called the Energy Educators Institute, and the educators get hands-on experience by learning about the electric utility industry in general and Santee Cooper in particular.

They visited a generating station, heard presentations by energy efficiency experts, took a boat ride through the Pinopolis Lock and even went canoeing at Santee Cooper’s Old Santee Canal Park.

Santee Cooper held three institutes this summer. They began on July 5 and ended on July 22. Hands-on learning activities and unit-planning sessions are the cornerstone of the experience. The educators receive three graduate-level credit hours.

Santee Cooper’s Administrator of Educational Programs Brandy Incorvia said the most asked question is, “How can we prepare our students for the workforce?”

“A lot of teachers want to know what skills and education we, as a company, are looking for in our future workforce. We explain the different skill sets needed for the jobs we have available,” Incorvia said. “When some of the teachers think ‘Santee Cooper,’ they assume we only employ engineers. They don’t realize we have accountants, instructors, nurses, mechanics and line technicians all working for us, and that we need a diverse mix for our workforce.”

I visited some of the educators at the Energy Educators Institute this year. Here are some of their experiences:

“I really enjoyed the boat ride, the canoeing and getting to do experiments that I’ve never done before,” said Jessica Kalman, a teacher at Sedgefield Middle School in Goose Creek.

Beth Lewis teaches sixth-grade students at Lake View High School and said that the hands-on activities and her experiences learned during the week will definitely translate into a positive classroom experience.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “I really didn’t know that much about Santee Cooper, and I will encourage other teachers to sign up for this."

Mike Adams teaches algebra I at St. James High School in Murrells Inlet and said he also recommends that educators sign up for the experience.

“Everything about the experience has been very professional and educational,” said Adams. “I highly recommend it to everyone. It’s the best training I’ve ever had as a teacher.”

We hope your children have as much fun learning this year as their teachers did this summer.