SALISBURY, MD---Students in Dr. Harel Barzilai’s class at Salisbury University make math beautiful by relating i" />
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Friday, November 9, 2001

ADEPT Program Enhances Teachers' Math Skills 

SALISBURY, MD---Students in Dr. Harel Barzilai’s class at Salisbury University make math beautiful by relating it to real-life stuff. They put it in your tennis shoes, your back pocket, your purse.  Have you used any math lately?

“Look at your camera lens,” offered student Dan Andrews.  “See how it’s convex?  You need math to make that.  Or take that pencil behind your ear.  It’s a cylinder.  It takes math to make a cylinder.  How about the ratio of your shirt to your body?  Or the distance between trees in an apple orchard?  We need math!”

Andrews and his fellow students are teaching middle school mathematics such as algebra and geometry.  But they didn’t start out this way.  They are elementary- certified teachers who accepted the middle school challenge and have come to Barzilai’s class for help.  A report released by the Maryland Mathematics Commission (MMC) in June recognized that over half of the middle school mathematics teachers in the state have only elementary-certification. 

Responding to the acute shortage of Maryland educators trained in teaching middle school math, Barzilai and Dr. Homer Austin of SU’s Department of Math and Computer Science in the Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology have initiated the Allied Delmarva Enhancement Program for Teachers, or Math ADEPT. 

In  support of their timely efforts they received a $513,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, which is funding a three-year project of six courses being developed by Barzilai, Austin and their colleagues in SU’s departments of Education, and Mathematics and Computer Science.  Luckily for teachers, starting with the first official ADEPT course in the spring, NSF will pay the full tuition of those participating. 

The MMC has recommended establishing a certificate for those teaching middle school mathematics.  Elementary-certified teachers would take an additional 21 credits in math, including a methods course.  Barzilai and Austin believe that once the recommended certification is in place, the ADEPT program will count toward the necessary 21 credits. 

“I’m familiar with SU’s ADEPT program and know it to be outstanding,” said former MMC Chair Francis Fennel of Western Maryland College.  “It could become a model for Maryland educators.”

ADEPT reaches out to the nine Eastern Shore of Maryland counties plus Accomack and Northhampton counties in Virginia and Sussex in Delaware.  One student drives an hour and a half from Queen Anne’s County every Monday to attend Barzilai’s class. 

“They’re all heroes,” Barzilai said.  “The distance people travel to attend this course speaks to the need for professional development opportunities for teachers of mathematics.” 

A national commission, chaired by John Glenn, on K-12 science and math education reform, found not only that U.S. high school students are “devastatingly far from” the national goal of being first in the world in science and math, but also that “the basic teaching style in too many mathematics and science classes today remains essentially what it was two generations ago.” 

Barzilai and Austin want to help change that.  They will present their program in January at the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society Joint Annual Meeting in San Diego.  For more information call 410-543-6425 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.



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