Seven Northwest Indiana school districts will share a $450,000 federal Mathematics and Science Partnership grant administered by the Indiana Department of Education.
The grant will be used to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM, education over the next three years.
The Indianapolis-based College Acceleration Network created the STEM Innovations Institute, which partners school systems with higher education institutions to assist teachers in strengthening their STEM skills to help improve student academic performance.
This STEM initiative is partnering with Purdue University North Central, Westville, which will develop key tools and implement training for teachers and administrators. The Merrillville Community School Corp. will serve as the lead school district, working closely with the College Acceleration Network regarding accountability.
In addition to Merrillville schools, the other school districts participating are: Crown Point Community School Corp.; Gary Community School Corp.; M.S.D. of Boone Township in Hebron; School City of Hammond; School City of Hobart; and School Town of Munster.
The school districts are also part of the ReadyNWI initiative, a grassroots initiative established in 2009 bringing together educators and workforce development professionals.
Merrillville Superintendent Mark Sperling said school districts already have been doing critical work with the Math Innovations grant, creating a strong foundation to launch the new STEM Innovations Initiative in Northwest Indiana as a model for the state.
"Strengthening STEM instructional strategies and driving interest in STEM careers is key to our students' achievement and to our regional economies," he said. "The STEM innovations initiative also supports our governor's strong agenda in the development of STEM curriculum in schools."
More than 200 teachers in the seven school corporations in grades seven through nine will participate in summer institutes and key sessions throughout the school year to learn skills including how to create more effective lessons.
Hobart Superintendent Peggy Buffington said, "We are excited that districts in the region are collaborating and proactively seeking every opportunity to help our students achieve higher. ... This is our second grant award, and we are working on number three! Northwest Indiana students will have a real advantage for prospective careers in STEM.”
David Feikes, PNC interim Education Department chair, said PNC will oversee the program in the seven schools. "We're excited at PNC to be working with these schools. We want to do everything we can to support STEM education and education throughout the region," he said.