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JMU is key partner on $10.8 million grant supporting STEM educators

jmuThe James Madison University College of Education is partnering with Virginia ED Strategies and the Virginia Department of Education on a $10.8 million federal grant to create a professional development program to increase teacher effectiveness and improve in-person, remote and hybrid instruction in science, mathematics and computer science.

Announced Wednesday morning by Gov. Ralph Northam, the five-year Education, Innovation and Research grant from the U.S. Department of Education will be used to build sustainable teacher effectiveness capacity in secondary STEM teachers in rural settings through systematic, teacher-directed selection of professional learning experiences that increase collective teacher efficacy within a community of practice.

John Almarode, a professor of education at JMU and executive director of teaching and learning in the College of Education, will serve as associate project director for the duration of the grant.

“This grant is an opportunity to leverage all expertise and wealth of knowledge throughout Virginia and bring together to build greater capacity for education in science, mathematics and computer science,” Almarode said. “We aim to empower and support teachers as they engage in professional growth that impacts student learning. The culture and desire at JMU is to be an engaged university and engaging with our many partners, communities, teachers and students is precisely what drives this work.”

Almarode will work closely with the project lead from Virginia Ed Strategies, a South Boston-based nonprofit organization focused on partnerships and programs that help ensure a strong K-12 educational system, and colleagues in the College of Education, to foster, nurture and sustain:

  • the collaboration of the professional organizations across the Commonwealth
  • follow-up learning opportunities through continued professional learning and the support of an instructional coach or mentor for implementation
  • evidence-based practices or what works best in teaching and learning in science, mathematics and computer science.

Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, the Professional Learning by Choice Community will provide professional development opportunities and experiences for up to 2,100 middle and high school science, mathematics and computer science teachers.

As one of its first deliverables, the CHOICE project will develop an online dashboard that will include a self-assessment tool allowing teachers to identify their professional development needs. After completing the assessment, teachers will use the dashboard to select and register for courses and professional development programs aligned with their specific needs. The professional development selected by teachers will be paid for by grant funds and will replace 100% of the training required under school division employment contracts during the time teachers participate in the project.


augusta free press
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