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12 schools join math, science initiative

By Bayne Hughes · 340-2432

A dozen schools from Athens, Decatur and Morgan County systems are among 154 in the state joining an initiative designed to improve math and science instruction.

The Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative is an Alabama Department of Education program for kindergarten through 12th grades.

Gov. Bob Riley and the Alabama Legislature provided $22 million for the 2007 fiscal year to fund the expansion.

Local schools joining the program are:

Athens — Cowart and Brookhill elementary schools.

Decatur — Banks-Caddell, Leon Sheffield, Somerville Road and West Decatur elementary schools, and Horizon High School.

Morgan County — Brewer and Priceville high schools, and Cotaco, Eva and Union Hill schools.

“That’s wonderful,” Morgan County Superintendent Bob Balch said. “It’s a great accomplishment for those schools and the administrations. AMSTI gives the teachers excellent training, so the students get a lot more hands-on time with math and science.”

Urges applying

Banks-Caddell and Leon Sheffield use the Mobile Math Initiative, but Jeanne Payne, director of curriculum for Decatur City Schools, said AMSTI works well with the existing program. She urged the schools to apply for AMSTI.

“Some things are different, but they use the same philosophy,” Payne said.

“AMSTI will give the students more investigative instruction. It also adds the science component, which we’re excited about.”

3 services

The research-based initiative provides three basic services: professional development, equipment and materials, and on-site support from math and science specialists at no cost to the school.

Resources provided for AMSTI schools include more than 7,000 items. Examples are math materials, lab ware, chemicals, graphing calculators, global positioning devices and weather monitoring apparatus.

Activity-based approach

Students attending AMSTI schools learn math, science and technology through activity-based, inquiry approaches.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville serves as the AMSTI site for these schools.

Seven area schools — Brookhaven, Cedar Ridge and Oak Park middle schools in Decatur; Athens Middle and Intermediate schools; and Falkville High and Danville Middle School in Morgan County — were among the original schools selected when AMSTI began in 2002.

Decatur’s Eastwood and Julian Harris elementaries joined AMSTI in the 2004-05 school year.

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