Carr Elementary Teacher Sherry Nelson’s project entitled, “Virtual Reality, Here We Come” (Photo credit: John Matera)

Torrance Refinery Manager Steve Steach and Board of Education Member Terry Ragins racing remote-controlled devices programmed by elementary school students (Photo credit: John Matera)

“Robots, Coding, STEAM, Oh My!” – “Kinder Coding at Carr!” – “Virtual Reality, Here We Come” – “Picture a Quadratic”

These are a few titles from the dozens of grant projects that 28 talented Torrance Unified School District (TUSD) teachers created and implemented in their classrooms during the 2017-18 school year with support from the Torrance Refining Company LLC’s (TORC) Innovation Education Grant Program.

The refinery has been hosting this popular grant program for 21-years, providing funds to Torrance teachers to enhance their curriculum in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, commonly referred to as “STEAM.” This year, TORC awarded a total of $80,000 in grants.

The Torrance Refinery hosted a special end-of-the-year event on June 7 to recognize the grant-winning teachers and showcase the projects they created. More than 100 teachers, parents, and local leaders attended the program, including Board of Education president Michael Wermers and Board member Terry Ragins; TUSD Superintendent Dr. George Mannon; City of Torrance Councilwoman Heidi Ann Ashcraft; and Olina Wibroe representing State Senator Ben Allen.

(Click here to watch live footage of the event on Torrance CitiCable)

“We are pleased to provide support and resources to our local teachers through this annual program that directly benefits their students,” said Torrance Refinery Manager Steve Steach, who awarded Certificates of Recognition to the winning teachers during the event. “Teachers often do not get enough credit for all they do, so we enjoy hosting the showcase to express our appreciation to them, and to bring together students, parents, community members, and our workers to celebrate the teachers’ hard work that goes into creating and implementing innovative programs that inspire their students.”

During the event, guests had the opportunity to meet the teachers and interact with the grant projects, which included programmable drones, virtual reality simulations, remote-controlled devices coded by students, a 3-D printer, and more.

To qualify for the grant, teachers are required to show a direct link to “Design Thinking” techniques, while incorporating “Common Core State Standards” and “Next Generation Science Standards” into their proposals. A grant-selection committee comprising Torrance Refinery employee volunteers selected the winning grant proposals.

“As a 15-year member of the TUSD School Board, I have seen first-hand the Torrance Refining Company’s generous ongoing support,” said Terry Ragins. “Thanks to TORC support and funding, TUSD teachers and students are regularly benefitting from amazing enrichment opportunities that would not otherwise be available to them. In each case, teachers are encouraged to bring science, technology, and engineering to their students, in their classrooms and in the “real” world, teaching valuable content and relevant skills.  This hands-on approach allows students to explore and enjoy scientific inquiry and endeavors, promoting attention to and serious consideration of STEAM oriented careers in their future pursuits.”

The Torrance Refinery congratulates this year’s winning teachers and appreciates all they do for the students in our community’s schools.

This year’s winning teachers:

Alissa Goins, Arnold Elementary

Allen Chin, Adams Elementary

Ann Strauch, Arnold Elementary

April Pages, Victor Elementary

Chizuko Morimoto, Wood Elementary

Danielle Uy, Carr Elementary

Gayle Bond, Hickory Elementary

Heather Fitzgerald, Hickory Elementary

Jay Estabrook, North High

Jeanne Coe, Carr Elementary

Jennifer Walsh, Arnold Elementary

Julie Wood, South High

Karen Sasso, Arnold Elementary

Kathy Black, Arnold Elementary

Katie Doupe, North High

Katie Tyler, Wood Elementary

Kevin Tambara, Bert Lynn Middle School

Lindy Lee, Anza Elementary

Margaret Hughes, Arnold Elementary

Maureen Arevalo, Adams Elementary

Nany Ton, Madrona Middle School

Nicole Parsons, South High

Sabrina Holdsworth, Towers Elementary

Sandy Underwood, Towers Elementary

Sara Aloteibi, South High

Sarah Peterson, Carr Elementary

Shawna Rogers, Arnold Elementary

Sherri Nelson, Carr Elementary