Over the past 20 years, many of the state's mathematics teachers have benefited from professional development opportunities provided by Math in the Middle, Primarily Math, Nebraska Algebra and the New Teacher Network, all of which were funded by the National Science Foundation with support from Nebraska and teachers' own school districts.
Through the NebraskaMATH grant, the NebraskaNOYCE grant and the Sherwood-Lozier Fellowships donated to Omaha Public Schools teachers, even more Nebraska math teachers have had the opportunity to take graduate courses at no cost to them. It is clear that many more teachers want similar opportunities for graduate education but, in these difficult economic times and, as grants end, the cost of education can be a significant barrier to teachers.
To this end, the Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education needs your support. We created the Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes (NMSSI) in order to provide graduate courses during the summer, and the university responded by reducing the cost of tuition for math and science teachers who take NMSSI courses. With your support, the remaining costs of tuition and fees can be reduced further.
We invite teachers, school administrators, parents, and other Nebraska citizens to assist us in providing these opportunities for teachers. Most of us who love mathematics can remember a math teacher who was especially inspiring. We believe it is important to provide Nebraska math teachers with continued opportunities for professional growth. In turn, great teachers will inspire their students to learn — and love — mathematics.
To support inspiring teachers, contributions can be made through the CSMCE on the University of Nebraska Foundation website.
Four Funds for Supporting Teachers
We have created four funds for supporting teachers:
- The CSMCE Development Fund provides funds to support master teachers and graduate students who are part of instructional teams, travel and subsistence, and other infrastructure costs of the Center.
- The Science Teachers for the 21st Century Expendable Fund supports fellowships for science teachers who take NMSSI courses in the sciences, helping reduce the cost of graduate education.
- The Math Teachers for the 21st Century Expendable Fund supports fellowships for mathematics teachers who take NMSSI courses in mathematics and statistics, helping reduce the cost of graduate education.
- An endowed fund, which is also entitled Math Teachers for the 21st Century. In the Endowed Fund, contributions go into a permanent fund and only the money earned by those contributions is used for the purpose of that fund, in this case, fellowships for math teachers who want to take graduate courses at Nebraska. In contrast, contributions to the Expendable Fund are used relatively quickly, in this case to support fellowships for teachers the following summer; but once used, the funds are gone. Donors can then make the choice as to whether they want to see their contributions used immediately or to benefit generations to come.
We encourage all teachers who have benefited from NSF support that enabled them to participate in a Math in the Middle or NebraskaMATH graduate course to "pay it forward" and make a contribution to one of these funds.
Gertrud Creaghan: The Teacher Who Inspired Jim Lewis
Dr. Jim Lewis, the director of the CSMCE and the PI for NebraskaMATH and NebraskaNOYCE, has contributed more than $30,000 to these funds for supporting teachers, demonstrating his desire to "give back," he said.
"I've had a great career at Nebraska and received a lot of recognition for my work with teacher education, and I think it's time for me to give back to something I care deeply about," Jim said. "With this fund, I hope we can lower the barrier for teachers. And, in order to keep offering these great programs in the future, we need to find the capacity to support these opportunities using Nebraska dollars."
Jim was inspired to pursue a career in mathematics by his high school mathematics teacher, Gertrud Creaghan:
"Gertrud Creaghan was my 11th and 12th grade mathematics teacher at Istrouma High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My high school was in a poor section of town near the oil refineries that line the Mississippi River, but we were fortunate to have many great teachers. When I was a sophomore, she took a sabbatical to learn how to teach SMSG mathematics, something that became known as the 'new math.'
"Miss Creaghan treated us like adults and challenged us to learn mathematics. She was the first person to ever call me 'Jim' instead of 'Jimmy.' That alone was enough to make me love mathematics. The education I received in mathematics at a school 'on the wrong side of the tracks' was good enough that I was able to start college in an honors calculus class. Gertrud Creaghan inspired me to learn and love mathematics."