Last Modified: Thursday, June 26, 2014 3:19 PM
Over the past two weeks, 55 local teachers have given up their summer vacation to attend an intensive math institute, courtesy of a Math and Science Partnership Grant.
The is the fifth year the Calcasieu Parish School Board has received the grant, which provides professional development and instructional materials for public, parochial and charter school teachers of math in grades 3-5.
According to Tricia Miller, school system curriculum consultant, during the 10-day institute, teachers learn new strategies and tools that can be replicated in the classroom. She said the grant provides five additional professional development days during the school year and attendance at the Louisiana Association of Math Teachers Conference in Shreveport.
“This project in itself really helps our teachers hone in on the skills they have to teach their kids and really makes sure they are the experts that they should be,” Miller said. “They are doing a fabulous job already, but this allows them to just sharpen that saw.”
Miller said the institute’s instructors, who are master teachers and McNeese State University professors, spent several months preparing model lessons that provide a deep understanding of mathematics. Spots to attend the institute are coveted, she said, but the grant only funds 55 teachers.
“This year we had to turn down 62 applicants,” she said. “It was very difficult to choose, but we had to go by the grant guidelines.”
On Wednesday, the last day of the institute, Miller said teachers were given a test to assess how much they learned during the 10 days. The instructors were amazed, she said, with how much teachers had grown since the first day.
“It’s very encouraging because now we know these teachers are going to be very prepared to teach their kids this year,” she said.
Brandon Pleasant, a fifth-grade teacher at St. Theodore Holy Family Catholic School, said this was his first year attending the institute. He said he applied to attend because teachers always want to challenge their students to do better in math.
“This really gave teachers a tool to push students to the next level,” Pleasant said. “It’s our job to really prepare them for their future and not just the grade that they are in. This has been a great journey, and we’ve learned a lot as a group.”
Alexis Goodly, a third-grade teacher at Oak Park Elementary, has attended the institute for four years. She said it helps attendees be better teachers.
“We can always learn more,” Goodly said. “It’s really helped with teaching students strategies, especially with the new standards. I really noticed a difference in my students in math this past year. My kids were into it and understanding it because I had a good understanding of it. That makes a difference.”