TAMU-CC Virtually Hosts 17th Annual ME by the SEa Educator Conference

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A dedicated conference of more than 350 established and future educators from across the region gathered virtually to focus on improving access to engaging mathematics and science for students at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s ME by the SEa conference 

The annual summer conference – which was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – provides educators with presentations featuring teaching strategies and new approaches for pre-K through college-level educators and STEM professional development.   

“Although I wish we were all physically together enjoying our beautiful campus, we now know that distance does not stop us from learning. We’re educators – flexible, determined, resilient, leaders,” said Dr. Karen McCaleb, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi professor and dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

Dr. Faye Bruun

TAMU-CC Professor of Education

The conference offered 33 sessions with presenters from all over the region. Topics ranged from educating bilingual learners to nature journaling to teaching engineering concepts using Legos, closing with a keynote address from an accomplished and motivating educator.     

Amber Beisly, TAMU-CC assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Learning Sciences, introduced her concept of “Amplifying Engineering: Using Legos to Build Stuff.” Beisly’s concept focused on how the ‘E’ in STEM, engineering, is commonly left behind. She emphasized that the curiosity of young children needs to be properly encouraged so their natural science skills can develop.  

“Young children already possess many skills that scientists have,” said Beisly. “They love to ask questions, take things apart, collect an assortment of items, and they like to talk about what they have found and done. They need that adult to encourage, support and nurture those skills.” 

During “Teaching Financial Literacy Using Children’s Literature,” Drs. Kelli Bippert, TAMU-CC assistant professor of Literacy Education, and Sue Elwood, TAMU-CC associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Learning Sciences, demonstrated how children’s literature can enhance financial literacy skills needed for the state-mandated standardized tests and vocabulary development.   

Keynote Speaker Gerry Brooks

Gerry Brooks is a national encourager for teachers, a fellow educator and author of the book “Go see the Principal: True Tales from the School Trenches.”

“The use of discussion and reflection – students talking about their new learning – helps with learning retention,” said Bippert. “When you use children’s literature, it’s easy to integrate some theories into what you're doing with mathematic concepts.”  

Gerry Brooks, a national encourager for teachers, fellow educator and author of the book “Go see the Principal: True Tales from the School Trenches,” served as the keynote speaker. Brooks provided insight on perceptions, building/ending colleague relationships, and giving yourself a break as an educator. His message left the attendees with a fresh point of view for the upcoming school year.   

“The No. 1 thing for you being happy in your department, at your school, keep staff from going to other schools, changing grade levels, changing positions is relationships,” said Brooks. “We have to be able to turn off our professional minds on a daily basis, or we’re no good to no one.”  

It’s a sentiment that many audience members took to heart.  

Dr. Cindy Hopkins ’12, ‘18, a science teacher, tweeted, “Are you looking through the lens of other people? When you don’t, you are not being all you can be as an educator. Learning from Gerry Brooks!”  

The conference, which launched in 2005, is a collaboration between the TAMU-CC College of Education and Human Development and the Coastal Council of Teachers of Mathematics.