Phone: 830 357-4100
Degrees and Certifications:
BS Home Economics Education, Texas Tech University BA Elementary Education, College of Santa Fe Elementary Self-Contained Grades 1-8 GT Certified
Mrs. Debra Whittenberg
Debra Whittenberg has enjoyed a career in education for over 20 years. She is excited to begin her second year as the Gifted and Talented facilitator and Challenge Lab teacher at Van Raub Elementary. Mrs. Whittenberg graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics Education. She later completed her elementary certification and taught 5th grade in New Mexico until her husband’s Air Force retirement brought them to the Hill Country in 2000. The following year she joined Fair Oaks Ranch Elementary where she taught 4th grade math and science for 15 years.
Mrs. Whittenberg loves integrating technology tools into lessons and finding creative ways to encourage students to become more active learners and problem solvers. She looks forward to exploring, discovering, and learning with students in the Challenge Lab!
Debra and her husband Robert live in Spring Branch with their two dogs. They enjoy reading, hiking, traveling, and spending time with family, especially their son Rob.
Challenge Lab Overview
The Challenge Lab provides an additional tier of service to identified elementary gifted and talented students. Students go to the Challenge Lab for 90 to 120 minutes a week to receive curriculum and instruction designed to provide additional challenge and opportunity to pursue topics of interest. Participation is voluntary; parents may opt out of this service.
Challenge Lab instruction is based on the Texas Performance Standards Project curriculum (State G/T) and Project Based Learning, which is an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks specifically designed for gifted and talented students.
Activities in the Lab are designed to cause students to think in more in-depth and complex ways. Challenge Lab teachers use Sandra Kaplan’s model of Depth and Complexity and her icons for each element to engage students in assimilating new information, making connections, and digging for deeper understandings. Challenge Lab curriculums provide the opportunity for students to acquire and build collaboration, effective communication, and critical and creative thinking skills, while inspiring students to become lifelong learners. The focus of instruction in K-2 is on helping students acquire and build independent study and research skills. At grades 3-5, students engage in project-based learning in which they reserach and explore real-world problems and challenges.