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Faculty involved with teacher enrichment program

Delta State faculty and affiliates plan to start a Mississippi Delta Math Teacher's Circle.

Delta State faculty and affiliates plan to start a Mississippi Delta Math Teacher's Circle.

The American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), one of the leading math institutes in the U.S., announced the launch of a new Math Teachers’ Circle in Cleveland as part of a new initiative that empowers middle school math teachers to bring new excitement and interest in mathematics to their students.

The Mississippi Delta Math Teachers’ Circle planning team includes five members. Liza Cope, David Hebert and Clifton Wingard are professors in the Department of Mathematics at Delta State. Kathleen Lott is a retired high school mathematics teacher and a faculty member of the Math Science Partnership at Delta State. Whitney Janous is a sixth grade mathematics teacher in Greenville  and participant of the Math Science Partnership at Delta State University.

At a week-long workshop held in Washington, D.C., the Mississippi Delta team developed several goals for their Math Teachers’ Circle.

“We want to build and support a vibrant community of people in the Delta who enjoy learning, doing, and explaining math,” said Hebert.

The idea for Math Teachers’ Circles grew out of “Math Circles,” an activity for children that has its roots in Europe. Math Circles typically involve middle or high school students meeting after school with a mathematician.

“We would like to continue the momentum started with the MSP,” said Lott.

The Math Teachers’ Circle program focuses on teachers, but it is hoped that students will benefit as well.

“We hope to instill pride in the profession of math teaching,” said Janous.

Math Teachers’ Circles are collaborations between professional mathematicians, middle school math teachers, and school administrators. In a Math Teachers’ Circle, teachers experience open-ended problem solving firsthand in lively discussion sessions led by mathematicians. By enriching teachers’ own experience of mathematics, the Math Teachers’ Circle program hopes to affect their classroom teaching so that it includes more problem solving, a key component in student learning and engagement in mathematics.

“We want to recruit and retain quality math teachers,” said Liza Cope.

The Mississippi Delta Math Teachers’ Circle plans on seeking funding and starting two pilot circles in the spring of 2015. They plan on having a two- day, off-campus summer intensive training in July of 2015. The location of the training will depend on funding. The group plans on inviting a guest mathematician to present at the training.

The actual circles will occur on the third Thursday in August, Sept., Nov., Feb., March and June during the 2015 – 2016 school year. Approximately 20 people including in-service and pre-service math teachers and mathematicians will be invited to attend.

For more information on the Mississippi Delta Math Teachers’ Circle, please contact Liza Cope at 662-846-4512.

The Math Teachers’ Circle program is a project of the American Institute of Mathematics and is sponsored by the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Society of America, the Educational Advancement Foundation, Math for America, the National Science Foundation, and the National Security Agency. For more information about the Math Teachers’ Circle program, please visit www.mathteacherscircle.org.

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