College already giving back to community (Westmont Progress)

College already giving back to community

By Alex Koeller, Reporter for My Suburban Life
Westmont Progress, mysuburbanlife.com – October 6, 2010

You don’t need a microscope to see the effect the Hooke College of Applied Sciences has had on the Chicago-area education community –– but microscopes are exactly what the college is known for donating to local schools.

“It’s a way for us to give back to the scientific community,” said Charles Zona, the dean of Hooke College.

Founded in 2006, Hooke is a small, non-residential college in Westmont that focus on applied microscopic sciences. For the past three years, the college has hosted a two-week seminar that’s open to all high school and middle school teachers where instructors learn how to use modern microscope technology. At the end, the teachers are given enough microscopes to fill their classrooms.

Each teacher earns 38 professional development units from the state and three credit hours from Concordia College, Hooke’s partner institution in the venture.

The students –– many from underprivileged areas of the Chicago Public School system –– get to use top-of-the-line equipment. They also get the ability to further their education beyond high school through a dual-credit program involving Concordia and Hooke.

Many students use the microscopes to pursue an interest in forensics, which hold a special cachet for some who grew up watching televised police serials, Zona said.

The program is still small –– about 25 teachers attend most sessions, and about 10 to 15 microscopes are given to teachers every year. But it’s growing, Zona said. Teachers have come from as far away as Boston.

“We’re looking into other corporate sponsors for the program,” Zona said.