MISSOULA – The Montana Office of Public Instruction has awarded a $139,176 Mathematics and Science Partnership grant to the University of Montana and several partner institutions.

UM will collaborate with Montana Tech, Montana State University and the Polson School District on the Mathematics and Science Partners for Leadership project, which seeks to transform mathematics and science teaching practices by equipping 20 Montana master teachers with the leadership skills, knowledge and networks needed to advance educational reform in their communities.
Multiple studies have shown that the collaboration and collegiality fostered through teacher leadership enhances the capacity for change and improvement at both the classroom and school levels. 
 “Elevating the teachers’ voice and influence in the policies and decisions that shape learning opportunities for students is essential if we want to advance school reform that successfully addresses the everyday challenges teachers and schools face,” said Lisa Blank, UM science education professor in UM’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences. “Similar initiatives are now underway across the country at both the state and federal levels.”
Participating teachers will complete a yearlong leadership professional development program beginning with a summer institute designed to increase participants’ capacity to lead and foster change. Following this, each teacher will identify a strategic initiative for the next academic year that advances math and/or science learning in their classroom, building or district.
To support the strategic work, teachers will be partnered with a leadership mentor, participate in monthly online special interest forums, receive a $2,000 stipend, and participate in ongoing policy and decision-making activities sponsored by the Montana Office of Public Instruction.
UM mathematics education Professor David Erickson will work with Blank on the project. Program recruitment will begin March 1. Master teachers interested in participating can email Blank at lisa.blank@umontana.edu for more information.