The Indiana Department of Education announced the recipients of 2015 Math Science Partnership grants Monday, including $650,000 for Warsaw Community Schools.
Math Science Partnership grants provide funds for sustained, intensive and classroom-focused professional development for educators aligned with state and local standards and mathematics and science curricula, according to a press release from the IDOE.
“Professional development opportunities are essential to providing high quality instruction to Hoosier students,” said Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction. “That is why I am excited to announce the 2015 Math Science Partnership grants, which provide funding to eligible schools and corporations for the purpose of ensuring high quality professional development in the areas of science and mathematics instruction.”
This is the second Math Science Partnership grant WCS has received.
“They go in three-year cycles,” said WCS Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert.
“The last one was announced about this time in 2013. We’re running in our third year of that grant,” said Lorinda Kline, WCS math coach.
Chris Bonifield, WCS instructional coach with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, said the last one was for $538,000.
“They are extremely competitive in nature,” said Hoffert. “The purpose of the grant is to have a long-term impact on teaching.”
The grants are for math and science in partnership with higher education to shift teaching practices and expand content knowledge and instructional practice, he said.
The IDOE release states the Math Science Partnership Program encourages collaboration between institutions of higher education, local school corporations, and elementary and secondary schools to develop learning activities and increase the subject matter knowledge of mathematics and science educators in Hoosier classrooms. These grants are federally funded.
Bonifield said every year through the grants, teachers participate in 80 hours of the Summer Institute of Professional Learning.
“It’s a new grant with the same format as the old grant, but the focus is different,” Bonifield said. “It’s focusing on math only this year.”
She said this grant has four main goals. According to the abstract of the grant application provided by Bonifield, participants will improve their knowledge of mathematics content and make connections between STEM content areas; create and implement rich and relevant problem-based mathematics tasks and lessons to engage students in doing mathematics; acquire and apply technology skills to improve student learning in mathematics; and acquire and apply strategies to empower English language learners in mathematics and increase their interest and participation in STEM courses.
“We were awarded this grant because of our history. They watched us closely with the awarding of the last grant,” Hoffert said.
He said WCS received lots of compliments locally, statewide and nationally. “As we went back for a second grant, Warsaw has been on their radar,” he said.
Ball State University has been WCS’ partnering organization in the grants. That partnership was one of the reasons the grant was awarded a second time.
“We have a true partnership with Ball State, and Warsaw has a great retention rate with teachers while other schools lose 20 to 25 percent of their teachers,” Bonifield said. Warsaw doesn’t lose its teachers after they go through the Summer Institute, she explained.
Bonifield said the grant money will not be released until April. “We only get the first year of the grant. We have to retain good stewardship. If we do that, we get the second year,” she said.
Awardees are granted one year of funds with the opportunity to receive up to three years of total funding for their project, the IDOE press release states.
Kline said the grant will help 60 educators this time. Bonifield said educators from Sacred Heart, Lakeland Christian Academy and Warsaw Christian will participate.
“We see this as a community thing,” said Hoffert. “We value all kids and this we see as a way to help all kids. We’re very thankful. The grant writing team put in a lot of work to make this possible. It moves our STEM initiative forward.”
(Story By The Times Union)