Administrators in Buchanan County Public Schools have found that the math adds up when partnering with Virginia Tech. The Mathematics and Science Partnership Program, a federal grant program, awards funding to states, higher-education institutions, and local education agencies that come together to focus on math and science as a career-long process.

Now in its second year of funding, the Virginia Tech/Buchanan County Mathematics Partnership has received more than $410,000 so far. Aimed at improving classroom skills and content knowledge, the program serves roughly 85 math teachers in Buchanan County Schools.  

Penny McCallum, director of the Virginia Tech Southwest Center – part of Outreach and International Affairs – coordinates K-12 professional development for counties in and around Southwest Virginia. A retired school administrator, McCallum identified the need to provide a boost to Buchanan County public schools that were in “accreditation with warning” by the state for not meeting academic benchmarks in math.

“Students and even teachers in Southwest Virginia are somewhat isolated,” said McCallum. “These schools don’t have the funds to send teachers away for the type of training that teachers in Northern Virginia, for example, receive much more readily. I just want to give our children an equal opportunity for success.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the grant program funds collaborative partnerships between science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) departments at higher-education institutions and high-need school districts. The partnerships must provide intensive, content-rich professional development to teachers and other educators with an end goal to improve classroom instruction and, ultimately, student achievement in math and science.

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