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Thief River Falls to Receive Regional Teacher Center

June 17, 2008

By Lisa Gibson, Grand Forks Herald, N.D.

Jun. 17–Thief River Falls is one of nine Minnesota communities that will have a regional teacher center for the new Mathematics and Science Teacher Academy in the state, designed to improve teacher effectiveness.

Each of the regional centers will include at least one K-12 school district or education cooperative and one higher education institution. They will provide technical assistance to help teachers successfully implement Minnesota’s content standards, master the use of instructional approaches to engage students and improve skills to diagnose student learning needs using assessment of student performance.

“This is so exciting,” said Mary Klamm, education program coordinator with the Northwest Service Cooperative, the education cooperative running the center in Thief River Falls. “I think this will actually make a difference.”

The cooperative has partnered with Bemidji State University and EdSights, LLC, an educational consulting company, to instruct teachers in northwest Minnesota. It’s the first academy in the state to begin its work.

Each of the nine centers will accept 10 teachers to the program, who will become teacher leaders in their districts.

The program begins June 30 with a three-week course at Bemidji State University. Regional meetings will begin in September and are one-day events, continuing through April.

The 10 northwestern Minnesota teachers will meet with NWSC and EdSights, a total of six times throughout the year, in Thief River Falls, Bemidji or their own districts.

“The academy is the people,” Klamm said. “There really is no academy unless the people are meeting.”

Each Regional Center will have four components this year focused on math:

n A professional development module to help teachers deliver the new algebra standards to students in grades sixth through eighth.

n A work plan and budget describing how the 6-8 algebra professional development module and technical assistance will be delivered throughout the region.

n A commitment to deliver an additional professional development module for K-12 math teachers.

n A committed partnership between K-12 education and a Minnesota institution of higher education to build capacity for ongoing professional development.

Other Regional Centers are located in Mountain Iron, Fergus Falls, Staples, Marshall, St. Cloud, Mankato, Rochester and Plymouth.

Next year, more science instruction will be incorporated into the training, Klamm said, and the structure will depend on the outcome this year.

The $1.5 million in funding for the Math and Science Teacher Academy was approved during the 2007 legislative session, and an additional $500,000 came from a National Governor’s Association grant.

The TRF location received only $126,000 because it has fewer teachers after the latest cuts this spring, Klamm said.

“They based it on the number of teachers in the region,” she said. “And we had so many cuts this year. It really hurts us.”

But Klamm sees potential in the program, she said, and is excited to see the results.

“I’m hoping it will improve instruction practices so kids will learn, truly learn, math,” she said. “It’s the follow-through that makes the difference, and we’ll be able to do that with this.”

Gibson covers education. Reach her at (701) 787-6754; (800) 477-6572, ext. 754; or send e-mail to lgibson@gfherald.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Grand Forks Herald, N.D.

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