TTU receives First to the Top awards for professional development for K-12 teachers

Posted by Lori Shull - Wednesday, August 10 2011

thumb_STEM_grants_faculty_1FE83CTennessee Tech University has been awarded $632,700 to improve teacher training in STEM subjects in the Upper Cumberland region as part of the state’s First to the Top initiative.

In 2010, Tennessee was one of two states granted more than $500 million in federal funding for improvements in education through the Race to the Top initiative. Tennessee’s First to the Top education plan includes expanding performance goals, including academic readiness for young students, better preparing high school graduates for college and careers and higher rates of graduates enrolling and succeeding in post-secondary education.

Central to the success of these goals for students is the training, technologies and classroom resources available to the state’s educators.

The four programs funded at TTU, by sub-grants recently awarded by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, provide 16-month intensive professional development training for teachers representing kindergarten through 12th grade in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The training workshops will involve more than 100 teachers in targeted programs focused on their students’ learning needs. Statewide, more than 300 teachers will have access to cutting-edge training through First to the Top programming offered by other universities.

TTU’s College of Education has a history of successful, ongoing relationships with regional school systems. The professional development programs offered by TTU represent not only partnerships with schools, but within the university itself.

“Faculty members representing the departments of curriculum and instruction, chemistry, engineering, and math have collaborated to provide these exceptional, standards-aligned training programs to our K-12 teachers,” said Sally Pardue, director of TTU’s Millard Oakley STEM Center, which is the host venue for the professional development training.

The university’s four winning proposals were submitted by associate professor Holly Anthony and assistant professor Jane Baker, both of TTU’s curriculum and instruction department, Susan Gore, chair of the department and Kathy Rust, TTU chemistry instructor. Across the state, 36 grant proposals were submitted and 11 were funded.

Anthony’s project involves mathematics instruction through core and Tennessee learning standards-based content. Thirty middle school teachers will participate in interactive activities and learn strategies to engage their students. David Smith, associate professor in TTU’s math department, will co-direct the $142,300 project.

Baker will work with 30 early childhood educators, mostly from rural schools in the region. The program will explore Tennessee learning standards, math content and active learning experiences with a grant of $167,900. The project co-director is Kara Fromke, math instructor.

Gore’s program serves 25 elementary school science teachers and is directed toward expanding physical science content while embedding inquiry, technology and engineering state standards. TTU engineering instructor Ken Hunter and Rust are project co-directors. The award was for $198,500.

With $123,900 in funding, Rust will guide 20 high school teachers through intensive professional development in chemistry and physical science. Project co-director is Bethany Stevens, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction.

Collectively, the training programs will serve teachers in Bledsoe, Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Fentress, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Sequatchie, Van Buren, Warren and White counties.

For more information about the STEM Center and its programs, visit or contact Christina Hatley at 931/372-6573.

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