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Contact Information: Tanya Klein Public Relations 973-596-3433

Wells Fargo Awards NJIT $50,000 to Improve Teaching Math in Middle School

Pictured is Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo At Work Director, Northeast Region Stephanie Tonic, a member of the NJIT Board of Overseers with NJIT Associate Vice President for Development Jacquie Rhodes.

Wells Fargo has awarded a grant of $50,000 to the NJIT Center for Pre-College Programs to further the bank’s commitment to improving the teaching of mathematics in New Jersey middle schools.  The grant will support a new professional development program to help middle school math teachers adopt the new common core state standards for mathematics.

“In order for our children to compete for highly-skilled jobs, they have to be taught by talented teachers who have access to professional development programs in mathematics and science,” said Stephanie Tonic, Northeast senior vice president, Wells Fargo At Work and a member of the NJIT Board of Overseers.  “That’s why Wells Fargo is supporting this program as well as others that provide teachers with the training they need to be able to prepare our children for higher education and the workforce.” 

The new state standards are designed to set consistent benchmarks for achievement.  The goals include developing genuine understanding and analytical skills, rather than rote memorization.  “All of which is great,” said John Carpinelli, professor and executive director of the Center.  “But the truth is that the new core standards which are scheduled to be fully implemented here by the 2013-2014 school year, did not come with a realistic user plan for implementation.  Teachers need support and training to make the transition.  They need to know how to plan standards-based lessons and how to assess student progress.  That’s where we come in.”

“The good news is that this money will allow us to implement workshops, provide technical assistance, and reflective dialogues with some 20 to 24 teachers.  And, we hope to see our work  impact about 800 students from Newark and New Brunswick middle schools in fifth to eighth grade,” said Carpinelli.  “An aim of the Center has been to positively impact the education of youngsters in New Jersey, especially those in urban areas where proficiency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics often lags behind that of students in suburban districts.  We know this lag is not a measure of their potential and it is our aim to close this gap.”

The program begins this month with a one-day session for participating teachers.  Separate workshops will be held in New Brunswick and Newark to introduce teachers to the new standards and to discuss how the new standards vary from the current standards in mathematics.  The two groups of teachers will then participate in a joint, one-week workshop at NJIT in late August, during which they will map out strategies for transitioning to the new standards.  A one-day follow-up workshop will be held later in the fall to examine the results of implementing these strategies.  Support during the school year will include classroom visitations, technical assistance, and opportunities for teachers to reflect on classroom practices.

NJIT’s Center for Pre-College Programs, established in 1978, develops effective protocols for creating and implementing standards-based lesson plans.  The Center was established to increase access to scientific and technological fields among traditionally underrepresented populations and to improve the teaching of science and mathematics in secondary and elementary schools.  Achievement is reflected in the accomplishments of its many pre-college alumni who become scientist, engineers, mathematician, teachers, and other STEM professional who serve as mentors to youngsters.  All programs involve corporate partners, local school districts, non-profit educational organizations, and NJIT.  The corporate partners provide classroom speakers, financial support, role models, field trips, and expertise in the teaching of science and engineering.  For more information, please contact Levelle Burr-Alexander, associate director of the Center for Pre-College Programs for K-20 Partnerships, (973) 596-3550, levelle.e.burr-alexander@njit.edu.

One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cyber-security, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com.