Meadows grant enables A&M-Commerce to train more teachers in area districts
From Staff Reports
Aug. 17, 2006 -- COMMERCE, Texas -- Thanks to a grant from The Meadows Foundation, Texas A&M University-Commerce will work with about 20 low-performing school districts in a 60-mile radius of the university to provide resource materials, assistance and training to math and science teachers.

The program impacts schools in Paris, Sulphur Springs, Greenville, elementary schools in Dallas ISD, and beyond.

"These schools all have high potential," says Peggy Gray, director of the P-16 Educational Improvement Consortium project. "We are working together to improve the students' scores in math and science."

This is the third year of the project, which began by serving five school districts.

"Virtually all the schools have showed an improvement and we believe A&M-Commerce has contributed to the schools' success," Gray says.

The project -- which ultimately reaches 20,250 students -- seeks to increase the number of students taught by highly qualified, effective teachers; to increase the credit accrual for math and science students; and to improve student scores on the math and science portions of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills statewide test.

The project focuses on teaching creative instructional strategies for the classroom to actively reach different types of learners. Teachers participating in the project also received resources such as curriculum alignment materials and math manipulatives, hands-on objects like fraction bars that can be used to explain mathematical concepts.

"Teachers tell us that they are able to take the math and science activities and immediately use them in the classroom," says Gray. "What they really want is something useable. They love the instructional strategies workshops -- these fill up fast."

The project has also included four districts that were performing well and found "a lot of good ideas" that have been incorporated into teaching best practices.

Gray notes that the funding from The Meadows Foundation has given A&M-Commerce the opportunity to provide additional services that would not otherwise have been possible.

"The great thing about The Meadows Foundation is that it allows you to take a project and expand it. Their funding has enabled us to provide more professional activities, reach more campuses, include more teachers and ultimately help more students,” she said.

"Teachers are very appreciative of anything you do for them. They work hard, are keen to develop professionally, and want their students to do well."

The Meadows Foundation granted A&M-Commerce $75,000 for the first year, up to $50,000 for a second year with a 1:2 match, and up to $50,000 for a third year with a 1:3 match.

Says Bruce H. Esterline, vice president of grants at The Meadows Foundation, "The Meadows Foundation recognizes the importance to the state economy that our students are well-prepared in math and science.

"For that reason, we are pleased to partner with Texas A&M University-Commerce to help classroom teachers from area school districts become better science and math educators."

The Meadows Foundation is a private philanthropic institution established in 1948 by Algur H. and Virginia Meadows to benefit the people of Texas. The Meadows Foundation looks for programs and services that employ imaginative, innovative ways to solve community problems.

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