UC Riverside

Linda Scott Hendrick

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As principal investigator of the Copernicus Project, Linda Scott Hendrick (below, right) is helping the next generation of educators learn the best teaching practices.

Teaching Excellence: A Shared Journey

Linda Scott HendrickLinda Scott Hendrick, the principal investigator for the Copernicus Project and the Riverside, Inyo, Mono, and San Bernardino Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program (RIMS-BTSA), has always loved to learn. From an early age she was encouraged to be curious about everything in the world, and that curiosity has never faded.

“My father taught me to read before I entered kindergarten,” Scott Hendrick recalled. “I earned my first salary at age 8, by helping neighborhood kids with their reading. I was a teacher! To prove it, out of my magnificent earnings I bought a box of gold foil stars with which to reward my students.”

Scott Hendrick grew up in a multi-cultural and multi-racial neighborhood in New York City, and she has always seen good education as a means to improve life. “Over the years, I have become increasingly convinced that education is the best hope we have for addressing the familial, social, educational, economic and environmental problems we wrestle with on a daily basis,” she said. “My passionate belief is that good teachers are the key to those solutions.”

“Everything is possible when you think outside the box,” she added.

Scott Hendrick takes that idea very seriously. When she was teaching American literature at a high school in Connecticut, she had a student who had flunked the class twice and was still having problems writing according to the “rules.” Then, while watching him struggle with an essay, she decided to let him answer the question in whichever way he wanted. Her student went on to write a stunning interpretive poem about the book in the remaining class time. That student, Jeremy, went on to teach, write and publish poetry.

Better Teachers for a Better Future

Scott Hendrick applies her curiosity to teaching and learning. As the principal investigator for the Copernicus Project, she is dedicated to creating opportunities for educators to understand, learn and use best teaching practices. “For me, the essential questions to explore are: 'what makes a good teacher and how do we recognize and value that talent?'” she said.

The Copernicus Project is focused on science education and works towards teacher preparation, from early identification of future science teachers through new and veteran levels of teaching service. The project's innovative and groundbreaking research is providing opportunities for publishing and contributing new knowledge to the field of education.

The project is already making inroads into the Riverside community by inviting students from local community colleges to participate in a two-week Copernicus Project Community College Internship (CCI), a summer science education program on the UCR campus. The program orients college students to university life, financial aid and the California teacher credentialing process. Qualified participants are eligible for paid internships in regional science-oriented organizations.

A second, two-week summer program, the Copernicus Science Summer Institute (SSI), provides veteran teachers with development opportunities in science education, building science lessons, and lab experiences. The program provides these teachers with support during the school year, including classroom visits, instructional resources, peer coaching and training in research methods to improve student achievement.

The Copernicus Project is also collaborating with administration and staff at the César Chávez Center in Riverside. The CoperniKids Program provides science through art education for youth in after school programs, and works with children and their families to provide information about college to parents in a bilingual setting. During the spring and summer breaks, the César Chávez Center provides an informal science day camp for children in grades 4 - 6.

Making a Difference Outside of the Classroom

As the principal investigator, Scott Hendrick is responsible for making sure the program runs smoothly. “I do some research, some writing for publication, and significant grant writing to continue the programs I direct,” she said. “I am deeply involved in building educational partnerships.”

“I love what I do, trying to make the puzzle pieces of ideas about teaching and learning fit, and bringing together people and ideas,” she said. “Although I am not in the classroom, I work with a highly talented team of colleagues, and I have opportunities to mentor and sponsor them as well as, most importantly, to learn from them. So, teaching, and learning, have taken on a different kind of life over the years and over my career.”

Since 1993, Scott Hendrick has administered a state funded grant for the RIMS-BTSA program, in partnership with the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) Teacher Support Center (TSC). The RIMS-BTSA Program consortium consists of over 90 K-12 school districts, private and charter schools. RIMS-BTSA is the largest program of it's kind in California.

“There is ample evidence that teachers with substantial professional preparation are more successful in teaching than are those with minimal or negligible preparation.” she said.

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