School may be out for children, but for teachers, summer is the time for learning and honing their ability to lead instruction in the classroom. For 40 math teachers from Floyd County Schools, the past two weeks have been spent working together to improve their knowledge of math and science instruction. The school system partnered with Berry College, Shorter University, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, and guest instructors from Rome area businesses and industries to provide teachers with an intensive 70-hour instructional program.
This is the second consecutive year that these teachers and partners have come together as part of the competitive Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) grant awarded to Floyd County Schools to promote improved math and science instruction. MSP strives to improve teacher quality through partnerships between state education agencies, institutions of higher education, high-need local education agencies, and schools to increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science. The MSP program is a formula grant program to the states, with the size of individual state awards based on student population and poverty rates.
As a vital part of the program, business and industry leaders shared their experience of how math and science skills are a vital part of the business world. The community partners also opened their locations for teachers to visit and better understand how the skills they teach each day are applied in the workplace. "Math is used on a daily basis in the financial services industry," stated Mike Crego, managing director of investments at Benjamin F. Edwards and Co. Inc., one of the programs community presenters. "Consequently, a strong math background is essential to success in our industry and also a helpful tool for our clients."
“These teachers are serious about learning new ways to help all their students succeed in learning mathematics,” commented Dr. Anne Marie Marshall, an instructor in the program and professor of mathematics education at Berry College. The participants were equally pleased with the information shared to provide growth in their classrooms. "The past two weeks have been interesting and enlightening and my mental knowledge has improved greatly," said Jennifer Phillips, a teacher at Armuchee Elementary School. "The summer session alleviated my fears of making mistakes and helped me understand mistakes are essential in understanding," stated Lisa Brewer, a teacher at Garden Lakes Elementary. She added, "Errors do not equal terrors!"
Part of the two-week session focused on the importance of allowing children, and really anyone, the opportunity to struggle with a math concept. "This made me think about struggle time and growth," commented Janet Huckaby, a teacher at Johnson Elementary. "I can grow my math brain through hard work and struggle," added Rhonda Van Winkle, a teacher at Pepperell Elementary School.
Student volunteers worked with the teachers during the two-week session to help them apply what was being learned. Teachers participating in the program will continue to receive support during the school year to help them incorporate what was learned in the sessions into their classrooms. The follow-up will include coaching opportunities and classroom observations involving the professional learning communities developed during the summer.
Photo: Donnie Kilcrease, a first-grader at Pepperell Primary, works on a math assessment with Janet Huckaby, a teacher at Johnson Elementary School.