Students in Polk State College’s education program received the exciting news that their research and writing will be published in Journal of the Florida Science Teachers Association before they have even completed a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
Katrina Beltran and Daniel Clifton co-authored The Parent Advocate with their STEM education professor, Dr. Milton Hueling. Beltran and Clifton graduated from Polk State in December, and the article was published in the winter issue of the journal, which included “Why Write in Science?” by Huling and “Multicultural Science Education for English Language Learners” by Dr. Tony De Souza.
“It’s rare for students at this level to publish,” Hueling said. “I can’t even explain how proud I am of these two students. This fear of publishing or perishing is not as bad as it sounds. They are now fully capable of doing this on their own without my help.
He shared that when he ended up doing a self-study course with two students in the classroom, he saw an opportunity to encourage them to become researchers and writers.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity … to push them to pursue a master’s degree and eventually a doctorate, because if they can get one paper published, they see that it’s not an insurmountable task,” Hueling said.
“Getting my own work published means everything,” Clifton said. “It’s amazing that we were able to get published before we actually finished.”
The article explores how parents can become better advocates for their children within the education system. He explains how many publications provide resources for teachers or parents “with free time often determined by socioeconomic status” (ie, parents with time to volunteer at school), but not “for the average parent.”
This article focuses on science education because the authors’ research shows that this discipline is instrumental in the development of choice-making in everyday life and the construction of citizenship.
A framework of questions for parents to ask regarding their children’s science education is provided so that they can gain information to best advocate for their children’s learning. This includes guidance on the content, quality and quantity of teaching, as well as on student behaviour, assessment and communication.
“Science is one of those things that you don’t have a lot of time for in education, but you have to make time for it. [Bringing science] at the forefront is something Dr. Hulling is passionate about and something we are passionate about as well,” Beltran said.
“We’re seeing parents who want to help their kids, and we’re actually putting together a plan for parents on what to do,” Hueling added.
Beltran and Clifton expressed gratitude for the experience, as well as their teachers, who continue to support them in their new roles as teachers in Polk County Public Schools.
“My experience in Polk State’s educational program has been wonderful. My professors were so helpful, so guiding,” Beltran said. “Even now as a teacher, they help me answer questions to help me and be better for my students.”
Individuals interested in Polk State’s degree program are invited to an information session on Monday, May 1, 2023, at 6:00 pm on the Polk State Lakeland campus and should RSVP here: https://forms. office.com/r/8vypknATi9. Polk State is proud to offer a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education and Administration, as well as the Teacher Education Institute and other certifications. Opportunities such as publishing and completing internships in Polk County schools are central to the Polk State Education experience. More information is available at polk.edu/education.
The Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) is the state’s largest nonprofit professional organization dedicated to improving science education at all levels, from preschool through college. Association members include science teachers, academic supervisors, administrators and academics. The FAST Journal is a peer-reviewed practitioner journal published annually.