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For teachers, institute’s math training adds up


Julie DesOrmeaux, teaches other teachers in math during the CHAMPS Institute. From left are Erin Carmichael of Eupora Elementary, Becky Doss of East Webster Elementary, and and Karen Tabb of East Webster Elementary.

Julie DesOrmeaux, teaches other teachers in math during the CHAMPS Institute. From left are Erin Carmichael of Eupora Elementary, Becky Doss of East Webster Elementary, and and Karen Tabb of East Webster Elementary. Photo by: Kelly Tippett


Kristin Mamrack



Enthusiasm already was high in only the second day of the Creating High Achievement in Mathematics and Problem Solving outreach program at Mississippi University for Women''s Roger F. Wicker Center for Creative Learning.  


In its sixth year, the two-week CHAMPS teacher professional development institute attracted 50 middle school teachers from throughout 22 school districts, mostly in Northeast Mississippi. 


"So far, we have been introduced to Understanding by Design, which is a new concept for a lot of teachers," Lindsay Kerstetter, a teacher at Columbus'' Lee Middle School, Tuesday said of the program, which began July 13 and ends July 24. "It''s planning with the end in mind, rather than trying to hit all the benchmarks, so students come away with a better understanding of how to apply the concepts we teach for a lifetime, not just to pass a test." 


Teaching special education students for the past six years, Kerstetter "always had an interest in math" and participated in the program to better prepare herself for obtaining certification to teach the subject, among other things. 


"It helps me, as a special education teacher, to better teach my students with special needs the math they''re going to be learning," she said. "And to hopefully be able to be a better co-teacher with my cooperative math teacher, to be a better asset to her, as well." 


"I expect to enable myself to better incorporate math in my curriculum," Sheila Windom, a teacher at East Oktibbeha Elementary School, said of her reason for participating in the professional development program. "I teach intellectually gifted students. Even though it''s not required for me to teach math in my class, I would still want to use some of these skills to help them outside of my class." 


The CHAMPS project offers professional development in mathematics for teachers in grades 4 through 9, said the program director, Sarah Sumners, noting the participating teachers also will attend four Saturday workshops throughout the school year, as well as state and national mathematics conferences. 


Specific objectives include increasing mathematics content knowledge, increasing the use of manipulative- and inquiry-based instructional strategies, increasing participants'' leadership activities within their schools, increasing participants'' involvement in high-quality professional development activities and increasing middle school mathematics achievement. 


"The goal is to get (the participating teachers) highly qualified in middle school mathematics," said Sumners. "With the end goal being their students will perform better in the classroom and on standardized tests. But our emphasis is teacher quality in professional development." 


For participating in the CHAMPS project, which is funded by a Mississippi Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership grant, teachers receive continuing education units, instructional materials, supplies and a $70 per day stipend for each day of training. 


Teachers are selected for the program based on their interests in professional growth and development and the quality and submission date of their application material. 


"So far, they''ve been an interactive group, enthusiastic and willing to participate," Sumners Tuesday said of this summer''s class of CHAMPS teachers.




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