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Schools hopeful on grant money

CONYERS - Officials in Newton and Rockdale county public schools are keeping their fingers crossed until they find out if they will receive federal funding for special training for its math and science teachers.

For the past two years, the Newton County School System and Rockdale County Public Schools have co-applied and received a Math Science Partnership grant, which provides for a partnership between area colleges to train middle and high school math and science teachers. RCPS also received the grant two years prior to the co-application.

"The teachers who have participated have raved and raved about how great it was," said Adria Griffin, director of the middle school curriculum at NCSS.

With the grant money, which is awarded through a federal program, teachers receive training from educators at area colleges that they can use in their classrooms.

"They learn content, not teaching strategies, but actual instruction," Griffin said.

Clayton College and State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University provide training in the summer and during the school year. Trained teachers then share the information they learn with other educators during professional learning activities.

Kelly Barrow, science, health and physical education coordinator for RCPS, said teachers are trained on content and may follow up with modeling, seminars, work with other teachers and online support.

"It's about making sure the content is in place and how do you deliver that with best practices and instructional strategies," Barrow said. "They also collaborate with other teachers to determine what strategies work, what doesn't work and what they have to do to modify that to meet all needs of all students."

The last grant, which was awarded in 2007, gave the Newton and Rockdale school systems more than $533,000 for the last two school years. The school systems applied earlier this month for two more years of funding. The grant application requests $788,000 to use for teacher training and materials during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.

"It will probably be more competitive this year than in years past because so many folks have budget issues and are looking for money to support math and science education," Barrow said. "Typically, you get a percentage back of what you propose so you have to decide what's most important and set your priorities."

If approved for the funds, the teachers plan to provide training for seventh-grade physical science teachers and math teachers in eighth- through 10th-grades. Training will continue for eighth-grade science and math teachers, according to Kathy Garber, NCSS grant coordinator.

The grant recipients may be announced sometime after March.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.