Grant Program For Math Teachers Unites Rivals
Aug. 8, 2018
SHSU Media Contact: Wes Hamilton
While Sam Houston State University and Stephen F. Austin University are bitter rivals, the two universities have put aside their differences to team up, along with the University of Texas-Tyler, to help rural middle school math teachers in east Texas.
The Greater Texas Foundation has begun a professional development project that includes a $865,963 grant to collaborate with 105 middle and high school mathematics teachers. Those selected will receive training to better their instructional practices in order to improve student attitudes and performance in mathematics and better prepare students for a college education.
Locally, teachers from 20 Huntsville area schools are participating, including Richards, Trinity, Coldspring and Bridge City.
Representing SHSU in this program is professor of Mathematics, Dustin Jones. The need for this program is obvious to Jones, who says rural areas are at a disadvantage when compared to bigger Texas districts resources.
“It is vital that we help our local, rural areas in educating all students,” said Jones. “Compared to students in larger districts, students in small town and rural schools have fewer opportunities to take upper division mathematics courses. This results in lower rates of preparedness for success in college level mathematics.”
The challenges facing rural teachers are not just limited to resources. Location can be restrictive as well, due to distance needed to travel for professional development and even supplies. These teachers can also face professional isolation due to a small number of mathematics teachers in an entire district.
“That makes collaboration difficult,” said Jones. “It requires educators to teach a large number of students across different courses as well.”
The goals for the grant program are to provide professional development to fifth through tenth grade teachers of mathematics from rural and small-town school in east Texas, emphasize research-based strategies for effective mathematics teaching and increase the number of middle school students who are prepared for success in upper-level mathematics courses in high school. Jones will serve as the mathematics content expert on the joint leadership team.
“I contribute to the program by developing and delivering training to the participants in the summer and during two school-year meetings,” said Jones.
Teachers from the 20 Huntsville area schools will also have embedded days, where they will observe Jones in their classroom.
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