Photos of students and teachers

2008 Innovation in Education Award Finalist

Sonia Regenfuss

Award: High Impact Teacher of the Year
Arnold O. Beckman High School (Science Department Chair)
Tustin Unified School District

“My vision of innovation in education is based on empowering students to be self-directed learners and explorers of scientific ideas.”  Sonia Regenfuss, Science Department Chair

Program Description

Sonia Regenfuss is a firm believer in teaching students to use various tools and methods that allow them to think at a deeper, more critical level. Rather than simply memorizing facts, she emphasizes the connections between what students are learning and the real working world outside the classroom.

Ms. Regenfuss utilizes technology like the GLX explorer and the Odyssey program to measure and evaluate experimental data about chemistry in her Environmental Science classes. Students learn about such topics as pH, conductivity, pressure, volume, and heat transfer using different probes on the GLX explorer at stations set up around the classroom. Students have also used PowerPoint, Excel, Word, Internet resources, and video cameras to create their own chemistry lessons, test-prep games, and educational movies.

In Ms. Regenfuss’ class, students learn how to work productively on collaborative team projects, and to help each other via peer-tutoring sessions. She believes this kind of peer interaction will better prepare students for the working world. Not only do her students benefit from this kind of collaboration, as Ms. Regenfuss regularly shares her ideas and activities with other teachers in the science department to enhance student understanding and increase teacher development. Parents of her students also enjoy coming in as guest speakers, giving the students a connection with science and exciting career paths.

What is the role of K-12 education in driving Orange County’s economic competitiveness?

It is important for the education community to stay in touch with companies in the area so that we can better identify the critical skills we should teach students so that they can be successful and make good career choices. It is our responsibility to keep current on new technology, current education research, and methods that have proven to be effective in helping students achieve success.

Through my efforts to support my fellow teachers and students, there is an active Science club, Chemistry club and Beckman High School will be the pilot high school in our district to support the Green Initiative which is a student run organization for responsible resource usage on campus.

How can business and community members support your efforts?

check mark Arrange a student field trip at your workplace.
check mark Arrange a teacher field trip at your workplace.
check mark Help underwrite our science, math, or technology programs.
  Participate in a virtual career panel at our school.
  Provide college scholarships to our students
check mark Provide guest speakers at our school.
check mark Provide internships to our students.
  Provide scholarships for teachers to attend STEM-related conferences.
  Provide summer job opportunities to our teaching staff to help them understand workplace requirements.
  Sponsor a robotics team at our school.
  Volunteer as a STEM mentor to our students.
  Volunteer as a STEM mentor to our teachers.
  Volunteer to help with our Science Fair or Science Olympiad.
  Work with our teachers to integrate "real-world" skills into their classroom curriculum.


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