New Director Named for U of A Center for Math and Science
Shawn Bell takes over as director of the University of Arkansas Center for Math and Science Education today, Aug. 1. Bell has worked at the center as a science specialist for two years.
Bell previously taught middle school science in Farmington for 18 years, during which he earned National Board Certification.
“Shawn’s expertise in science education is incredible,” said Michael Miller, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions. “He has an excellent understanding of the goals of CMASE and its potential, and I am certain will do an outstanding job expanding its footprint in the community and on campus.”
Bell earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the U of A and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Central Arkansas.
“I received a master’s degree in educational leadership because I wanted to be an assistant principal or principal to develop my leadership skills, but then I realized I wanted to mentor teachers and work with students, too,” Bell said. “The Center for Math and Science Education offers professional development to preservice and inservice teachers with a focus on the Arkansas K-12 Science Standards, which are based on the Next Generation Science Standards, the K-12 Arkansas Mathematics Standards, and K-12 Arkansas Computer Science Standards.”
The state-mandated science standards were effective for kindergarten through fifth grades in 2016 and sixth through eighth grades in 2017. The remaining grades – ninth through 12th – will begin using the standards this school year.
Bell also will take over former director Lynne Hehr’s role as professional development assurance officer for the Arkansas Department of Education. That means educators who want to offer state-approved credit for professional development can submit their curriculum for review by Bell.
The center offers its services, not only to public school teachers and university students studying to be teachers, but also to private schools, home-schooling parents and groups such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, he said. The center helps put on nighttime events at local schools focusing on the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It serves multiple counties in Northwest Arkansas, the same coverage area as the Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative based in Farmington and the Ozarks Unlimited Resource Educational Service Cooperative based in Harrison.
The center will expand its collaborative efforts with other units and academic programs at the U of A, Bell said. It also will continue to operate as a NASA Educator Resource Center. Curriculum and resource materials are available to educators to be checked out free for two weeks. Some training is required before checking out robotics equipment and other technology that is available.
The center also has helped organize the Northwest Arkansas Regional Science and Engineering fair held each March on the U of A campus, and that will continue, Bell said.
The center also has two classrooms that are free to use for professional development in its West Avenue Annex location.
Bell asked any university departments that would like to work with the center to contact him at 479-575-3875 or firstname.lastname@example.org.