OXFORD, Miss. – The Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation of Jackson has awarded $1.6 million to the University of Mississippi’s Center for Mathematics and Science Education to support its efforts to improve STEM education statewide over the next three years.
The grant marks the third time Hearin has renewed funding for the influential center, which celebrates 10 years of service in December.
“For us, this is affirmation that our work is having a real and positive impact,” said John O’Haver, CMSE director. “We’re proud and grateful for the Hearin Foundation’s support of our mission to improve the STEM pipeline flowing throughout our state.”
Established in 2006, the CMSE is part of the UM School of Education and provides professional development for more than 1,000 Mississippi STEM educators each year as well as a variety of hands-on STEM education programs for thousands of K-12 students. The CMSE has a direct impact on more than 66 percent of public school districts in Mississippi.
Over the next three years, CMSE staff plan to work more closely with the UM Department of Teacher Education. Through the grant, the center will collaborate with the department’s existing “Grow as a Group” initiative, a study of the professional development partnership possibilities when a school has a mathematics student teacher from UM who is part of its yearlong student teaching program.
The program will help bring professional development opportunities to teachers at schools where student teachers are placed. The development activities will be conducted by UM graduate students working in the field with student teachers. This initiative aims to provide updated skills and knowledge to teachers who do not have time to attend training away from their school site.
The new grant also will help provide scholarships for K-12 students to attend numerous camps and learning activities at UM.
In addition to professional development and K-12 STEM programs, the CMSE has provided valuable research fellowships for graduate students that have helped the university increase the number of earned Ph.D. degrees in mathematics education by 790 percent over the past nine years.
Alumni of the CMSE fellowship program work as faculty members at K-12 and post-secondary institutions across the state and beyond, including Blue Mountain College, Middle Tennessee State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi College and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, as well as at Ole Miss.
Other accomplishments by the center include:
- Redesign of mathematics content courses for UM education majors
- Introduction of National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program at UM
- Launch of FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics competitions for middle and high school students statewide, with 975 percent growth over four years
- Development of a portable planetarium program that has benefitted more than 7,400 students since 2012
- Establishment of UM’s MathCamp, Engineering Camp, ASM Teacher’s Camp and STEM Competition and Trebuchet Competition
- Launch of more than 10 major professional development programs for teachers, including UM’s Mathematics Specialist Conference, Project PrIME, the MaPLES Initiative, the DEEP Learning Communities Project and UM Common Core Workshop series.
“From the start, we’ve had this vision of providing good work that benefits the state of Mississippi,” said Alice Steimle, CMSE associate director. “I like knowing that the hard work and the effort that we’ve put in has been recognized and is making an impact.”