Helena, Ala. – The Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative at the University of Montevallo (AMSTI-UM) is holding its yearly training for nearly 1,400 teachers, trainers and participants at three different week-long summer institutes. The first institute is being held June 13-24 on weekdays from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Helena Middle School.
“AMSTI is the State Department of Education’s initiative to foster high quality math and science instruction in Alabama’s schools,” said Steve Ricks, AMSTI state director. “It is designed around partnerships involving the State Department of Education, public schools and institutions of higher education.”
AMSTI-UM serves approximately 2,200 K-12 math and science teachers in 61 schools representing Shelby County, Talladega County, Talladega City, Vestavia Hills City, Homewood City, Hoover City, Chilton County, Bibb County and Coosa County school systems. Participating teachers volunteer a week of their summer break to attend the sessions to best provide for students during the school year.
One of the greatest advantages of the training institute is the opportunity for teachers to view the math and science lessons from a student’s perspective. “Learning from the child’s view allows me to better adjust, plan and prepare how to best present it in the classroom,” said Karen Morrison, a kindergarten teacher at Woodstock Elementary School in Bibb County who has used AMSTI in her classroom for six years.
“Hearing other teacher’s feedback during the training sessions allows us to share information and data with each other,” said Kristen Bell, a teacher in the Hoover School system. “AMSTI allows us to address the state standards while we are teaching, but also gives purpose to the lessons we are teaching.”
AMSTI provides lessons based on the state’s teaching standards, as well as all the materials, instructions, manuals and training the teachers need to deliver the lessons successfully in the classroom. AMSTI-UM also offers specialists that visit the in-service area schools to provide mentoring, teaching assistance and allow the teachers comfort while using the materials.
“We are delivering thousand of dollars of materials into classrooms every year,” said Ricks. “It may be plants and animals units for kindergarten classes or graphing calculators and DNA replicators for our middle and high school classes. Our specialists ensure that the teachers can use these materials to best serve their classrooms.”
Serving as the state’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative, AMSTI is the largest math and science initiative of its type in the world. AMSTI seeks to improve the math and science curriculum in Alabama public schools, ensuring that every student meets college and career readiness standards upon graduating high school. The program is currently being implemented in 53 percent of the public schools, reaching nearly 400,000 students.
The next Summer Institute dates will be held on July 13-22 at Oak Mountain Middle School and July 18-22 at Hoover High School.
AMSTI-UM is not permitted to use any state funding to purchase food items or incentives for trainers or participants. Community partners have helped greatly with this. Through the generous donations of Buffalo Rock, Carolina, Bud’s Best Cookies, Donut Joe’s, ETA, Frios, Golden Flake, HeyGotCoffee, Jim ‘N Nick’s, Lazy Boy BBQ, Magic City Sweet Ice, MugShots, Origo Education, Newk’s Eatery and Taziki’s, AMSTI-UM is able to support the trainers and teachers who work tirelessly with the region’s children.