Polk County teachers will again take part in a hands-on training program focused on math and science instruction.
Upwards of 15 Polk County fourth, fifth, sixth and eight-grade teachers could be among an estimated 150 teachers from school systems in Northwest Georgia who will receive instruction paid for by an $830,000 Math and Science Partnership grant.
“The purpose is to provide professional development in science and math for teachers in grades four, five, six and eight,” said project director Tom Brown, an associate professor of science education at Kennesaw State University.
The grant is spread over a two-year period during which teachers undergo 160 hours of additional training in their subject. Polk County teachers also took part in a previous two-year program, which ends this summer.
In the last program, teachers took flight with Tiger Flight, a group of volunteer pilots who promote aviation.
"We like to do some things out of the ordinary to get teachers excited about science," Brown said.
Teachers involved will receive a stipend to attend a weeklong summer course. The grant also includes funds for materials, which teachers can take back to their classrooms to match the instruction that they receive.
Additionally, substitute teachers can attend a weeklong class the teachers take during the school year. Classes are at KSU and Georgia Highlands College.
“We have faculty who will be participating, its very involved and engaging for our faculty,” said Renva Watterson, vice president of academic affairs at Georgia Highlands. “It’s a good alliance we hope will continue to emerge between classroom teachers in our area and our faculty.”
David Wright, regional coordinator for the Georgia Youth Science & Technology Centers, said the aim is to encourage teacher confidence in the subjects of math and science. Wright said the courses integrate performance standards expected of students at various grade levels.
The grant also provides teachers with funding to purchase classroom materials that relate to the training they receive.
“Any time we’re able to offer professional learning opportunities to our faculty, I get excited,” said Floyd County Superintendent Lynn Plunkett. “I think the more opportunities we can provide for our teachers, the more opportunities our teachers are going to be offering our students in the classroom.”
The first time Northwest Georgia received the two-year grant, 94 percent of the 110 teachers participating completed the program.
“It’s grade-level specific, and I think teachers appreciate that a lot,” said Brown.
“In Georgia there is an overall shortage of teachers comfortable with teaching math and science subjects, but the future (of industry) is dependent on students interested in science and math,” he added.
Elizabeth Cady, Rome News-Tribune staff writer, contributed to this article.