United Way Awards Grants to Innovative Sixth- and-Seventh-Grade Math Teachers in Dallas, Mesquite, Lewisville


United Way of Metropolitan Dallas today announced the first recipients of I Rock Math grants, designed to help public school teachers use innovative teaching practices to develop pre-algebra skills in sixth- and-seventh grade students. Teachers at three North Texas schools will receive a combined total of $45,000 for equipment they will use to enhance their students' overall learning experience - as well as expert coaching from Laying the Foundation, a division of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). The I Rock Math initiative and grants are sponsored by the Texas Instruments Foundation.

I Rock Math is one of the few grant programs in North Texas targeted to middle school math teachers. United Way focuses the initiative on these teachers because their students are entering a critical phase of development for high-level math skills. Building a solid foundation in pre-algebra in middle school prepares students to succeed in algebra, and thereby increases the chance that they will pursue and succeed in more advanced math and science courses in high school.

The inaugural recipients of I Rock Math grants include the following:

Black Elementary School, Mesquite Independent School District – Tiffany Moll, a sixth- grade math teacher, was awarded $5,000 to purchase iPads that students will use to enhance their math instruction. Students with a better understanding of the lesson can use the technology to move on to the next skill, while those who require more time to comprehend a concept will have the necessary time and assistance to establish a solid understanding before moving ahead.

Hampton Prep, Uplift Education, Dallas – David Gardner and Thomas Wilson, sixth- and-seventh-grade math teachers, were awarded $20,000 for tablets that synchronize with a smart board, helping the teachers fully engage students in math lessons and demonstrations. Additionally, students can use the tablets to access math apps that reinforce what they learn in the classroom. Hampton Prep teachers will also use United Way grant funds to purchase calculators for classroom use.


Hedrick Middle School, Lewisville Independent School District – Amber Barabas, Carrie Becker, Rebecca Meyer, Simone Milton and Linda Mir, a group of sixth- and-seventh-grade math teachers, were awarded $20,000 for iPads to support collaborative learning activities. Hedrick Middle School already uses iPads to help its diverse students develop real-world math skills. The United Way grant expands the practice, enabling more students to access apps, instructional videos, electronic research resources and online assignments that support the math curriculum.


"The future success of U.S. businesses depends on our access to a workforce with highly developed science, technology, engineering and math skills," said Sam Self, chairman of the Texas Instruments Foundation. "Through our partnership with United Way and Laying the Foundation, we are changing young lives forever by helping talented teachers prepare and inspire their students to succeed in math and science courses."


I Rock Math is supported by a $300,000, three-year contribution from the Texas Instruments Foundation. In August 2012, United Way invited North Texas public school math teachers to submit proposals for enhancing their teaching practices. Individual teachers could apply for up to $5,000 and teaching teams could apply for as much as $25,000. Education experts from United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Texas Instruments and NMSI reviewed 20 applications and conducted five site visits before awarding grants to Black Elementary School, Hampton Prep and Hedrick Middle School.


"We received several excellent proposals and are encouraged to see so many teachers embracing new and innovative ways to generate excitement about math and science," said Jennifer Sampson, CEO and president of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. "The first group of I Rock Math grant recipients is already off to a great start by generating enthusiasm for, and interest in, math and science curriculum. We are pleased to invest in teacher training and resources to prepare students to graduate and succeed."


According to the U.S. Department of Education, six out of every ten jobs created in the 21st century require math and science skills that only about 20 percent of the workforce understands. This is due, in part, to the fact that U.S. middle schools have a hard time finding qualified science teachers: 48 percent of schools overall and 80 percent those in urban areas report difficulty.


To address this issue, I Rock Math grant recipients will participate in rigorous teacher training designed to help the teachers further improve - and share their successful practices with colleagues. Grant recipients will participate in online forums, customized coaching sessions and peer mentor training conducted by Laying the Foundation professionals. Additionally, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas volunteers who work in science, technology, engineering and math professions will also visit I Rock Math classrooms to introduce students to math- and science-related career opportunities – and inspire them to pursue those opportunities.


Teachers interested in applying for I Rock Math grants in the fall of 2013 can sign up to receive updates, including an email when the request for proposals is released, at UnitedWayDallas.org/IRockMath.


About United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas offers North Texans highly effective ways to help people change their lives forever. United Way is the largest non-governmental funder of programs to improve Education, Income and Health in Dallas, Collin, Rockwall and southern Denton counties. By breaking the cycles of dropouts, poverty and poor health for hundreds of thousands of people over the next ten years, United Way donors, volunteers and advocates will create long-term improvements throughout the region. To learn more, please visit UnitedWayDallas.org.


About Texas Instruments Foundation

The Texas Instruments Foundation, founded in 1964, is a non-profit organization providing philanthropic support for educational and charitable purposes primarily in the communities where Texas Instruments operates. While its primary focus is on providing knowledge, skills and programs to improve science, technology, engineering and math education, the Texas Instruments Foundation also invests in arts and culture and in health and human services programs that meet the greatest community needs.


About Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments semiconductor innovations help 90,000 customers unlock the possibilities of the world as it could be – smarter, safer, greener, healthier and more fun. Our commitment to building a better future is ingrained in everything we do – from the responsible manufacturing of our semiconductors, to caring for our employees, to giving back inside our communities. This is just the beginning of our story. Learn more at www.ti.com.


About Laying the Foundation

Laying the Foundation, a division of the National Math and Science Initiative, is dedicated to providing the best content-based, pedagogy-driven, teacher-to-teacher training, supported by rigorous classroom-ready lessons and web-based resources to improve the quality of math, science, and English instruction. Laying the Foundation has trained over 36,000 teachers to date and has demonstrated dramatic increases in Advanced Placement exam participation and success in STEM subjects. Laying the Foundation believes that training, mentoring, and empowering the teacher corps will lead to high standards of academic excellence for all students.

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