Texas Tech Colleges Garner $3 Million from Greater Texas Foundation

Middle School Math and Science master’s program gets a jump start from funding.

Teaching math and science more effectively in Texas middle schools and with more qualified teachers is much closer to reality, thanks to the Greater Texas Foundation and a group of researchers from Texas Tech University.  Texas Tech officials announced today (Dec. 10) a $3 million grant from the foundation to fund a new master's program designed for current middle school math and science teachers. Twenty-two universities across Texas competed for the $3 million award, the largest amount ever granted by the Bryan-based organization. The foundation serves the citizens and educational institutions of Texas by supporting initiatives that increase access to higher education, support teachers and encourage parental and community involvement in education. The new master's program, called Middle School Math and Science (MS)2:  Understanding by Design, is an endeavor of the College of Education in collaboration with the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. "Improving math and science education is a national imperative," said Wynn Rosser, executive director of the foundation. "Texas Tech University, through a number of impressive programs, is already addressing the issue. Greater Texas Foundation believes the MS2 program is complementary, and we are quite pleased to invest in Texas Tech and our state's science and math teachers." "Texas Tech is a national leader in training teachers in math and science and in the delivery of distance education," said President Guy Bailey.  "We are honored to participate with the Greater Texas Foundation in this important project." According to Jennifer Wilhelm, principal investigator on the project, the (MS)2 program will allow teachers from throughout Texas to pursue the distinctive master's degree at a distance, with minimal on-campus requirements, over a three-year period. The first cohort will begin the course of study in the fall of 2009. "This program is unique in that it aims to improve instruction for teachers who serve underserved student populations as well as provide opportunities for math and science teachers to accomplish several other goals," said Wilhelm. Wilhelm explained the other goals to be to:
  • deepen their understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) content and pedagogical content knowledge
  • create meaningful connections between STEM disciplines as a method of making math and science content relevant to a diverse population of middle school students
  • develop communication and mentoring skills through dialogue with other math and science teachers and with STEM and education faculty regarding the ties between math and science in effective instruction
  • experience and produce through group teamwork, integrated curricula that focus on addressing common misconceptions in order to improve middle school education
The grant will provide up to 100 participating teachers with a laptop computer and pay tuition and fees, as well as their housing during their face-to-face summer coursework. "We believe in the importance of having high-quality teachers in our state's classrooms; MS2 is perfectly designed to address this need," Rosser said. Key project members include Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz and Rebecca Ortiz from the College of Education, Mary Baker from the College of Engineering; and Dom Casadonte, Jerry Dwyer, David Lamp, Mark McGinley from the College of Art & Sciences. Teachers interested in participating in the program should contact Wilhelm at (806) 742-1997 ext. 229 or jennifer.wilhelm@ttu.edu. CONTACT: Jennifer Wilhelm, principal investigator,College of Education, (806) 742-1998 ext. 455, jennifer.wilhelm@ttu.edu .