Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Thanks to MSU-Meridian a group of 24 middle school teachers in the Meridian Public School District will learn new ways to encourage student learning in grades 6-8 that focuses on critical thinking and problem solving skills.
The teachers’ training will mirror the way students in Mississippi and across the country will learn as states implement a new set of academic standards known as Common Core.
A faculty grant team from the division of Education at MSU-Meridian received a Mississippi Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) No Child Left Behind: Improving Teacher Quality Program grant for approximately $90,000, which will allow the university to host a 20-day summer institute from June 19-July 19 at the university’s College Park campus. Participating schools will be Northwest Middle School, Magnolia Middle School, Carver Middle School, and Marion Park Alternative School.
The main goal of the project, which is called 4-C: Common Core Literacy Curriculum Connections, is to improve teaching and learning literacy in order to raise student achievement in core academic subjects.
“Areas of emphasis will be English Language Arts Literacy and Technology, Common Core: Math and Literacy, Logical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Common Core Content Connections and the Arts,” noted Dr. Sallie Harper, associate professor Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education at MSU-Meridian, and principal investigator for the grant team.
“The 20-day summer institute will weave Common Core English Language Arts and Literacy through academic areas such as social studies, math, science as well as English in grades 6-8 so that teachers can become more effective in guiding students to deeper understanding in their learning,” said Harper.
“These middle school teachers will receive training to discover exciting ways to teach their subject areas using art, music, movement, drama, and technology. By using these innovative and hands-on techniques, the students should enjoy learning more because it will be more meaningful and relevant to their everyday lives,” Harper added.
“This training will be extremely valuable in helping our district implement the rigorous Common Core curriculum,” said Dr. Alvin Taylor, Superintendent of Meridian Public School District. “We would like to thank MSU-Meridian for their generosity in providing such in-depth and unique training to the middle school teachers in Meridian.”
In addition to the summer institute there will be two follow-up days in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014 to check on teacher progress and to provide support.
The East Mississippi Center for Educational Development (EMCED), a collaborative partner on the IHL grant proposal with MSU-Meridian and Meridian Public School District, will also post the lesson plans used at the summer institute to their web site and make them available to other teachers in the district, the region, and the state.
“MSU-Meridian has few higher callings than working jointly with public schools in our area to improve the educational climate of the city and the region,” said Dr. Steven Brown, dean and associate vice president of MSU-Meridian. “We are indebted to the IHL for the leadership and vision that made possible this grant funding. I am also especially proud of the faculty members within our Division of Education who are working together to provide this summer institute of instruction and assistance for the middle school educators in the Meridian Public School District. We will continue to actively seek opportunities to work closely with them and the great folks in Lauderdale County Schools, or any of the other wonderful districts throughout our region.”
“We value our strong working relationship with EMCED as well as this new partnership with Meridian Public School District,” echoed Dr. Julia Porter, associate dean of the Division of Education at MSU-Meridian, “and we are excited about helping teachers improve student learning through the use of new strategies to teach literacy in all subject areas.”
“The willingness of each member of the grant team to contribute their expertise and time to the development of a creative, interactive training institute resulted, not only in an excellent project proposal,” she stressed, “but one that received grant funding.”
MSU-Meridian faculty members from the Division of Education who lent their expertise to the grant project are: Dr. Sallie Harper, Dr. Julia Porter, Dr. Lindon Ratliff, Dr. Suzanne Waddell, Dr. Penny Wallin, Mr. Jon Cash, Ms. Carolyn Tucker, and Dr. Charlotte Tabareaux from the MSU Riley Center.