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Toyota USA Foundation grant project ends with celebration

Professors and students gathered to celebrate the culmination of the Toyota Math and Technology Leadership Academy (MTLA) on Feb. 18 at Mariah’s Restaurant.

WKU President Gary Ransdell (left) and participants in the Toyota Math and Technology Leadership Academy celebrated the culmination of the three-year grant project on Feb. 18. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

WKU President Gary Ransdell (left) and participants in the Toyota Math and Technology Leadership Academy celebrated the culmination of the three-year grant project on Feb. 18. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

In 2010, WKU received a nationally competitive $500,000 grant from The Toyota USA Foundation. The Toyota MTLA was designed to improve student and teacher dispositions and beliefs, increase student learning, and increase family involvement in math and technology. This program was created by Dr. Pam Petty and directed by Dr. Marge Maxwell and Dr. Janet Tassell, all of WKU’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.

The main initiative of the Toyota MTLA was to grow teachers in leadership, mathematics, and technology.  Taking part in the program were 14 teachers in grades K-6 from Warren County Public Schools and the Bowling Green Independent School District.  Each teacher represented a different school in these two districts. The grant covered all the expenses for each teacher to complete coursework focused on a comprehensive math and technology approach that improved the teachers’ knowledge and instructional practices in math, technology, diversity, leadership, and assessment. Toyota MTLA participants then led other teachers at their schools in professional development and implementation of the instructional modules.

“It is clear this initiative would not have been successful without the collaboration and support of the superintendents, principals, and teachers,” Dr. Marge Maxwell said.  “We cannot say enough about the importance of a healthy relationship where we listen to the school administrators’ ideas and concerns as we strive to make these initiatives work.”

“It is also so important to note the relationship in this initiative between the Housing Authority of Bowling Green and WKU,” Dr. Janet Tassell said. “How wonderful is it that the award helped fund tutoring for the children.  We also greatly appreciate the Housing Authority for allowing our Toyota MTLA Scholars to work with the tutors and students in this community setting.”

WKU is the first university in Kentucky to offer the Elementary Mathematics Specialist Endorsement, which evolved out of this grant. Collaboration between the School of Teacher Education and the Ogden College Mathematics Department made this possible. “This outcome shows the importance of pushing ourselves to think smart, creatively and push for greatness,” Dr. Maxwell said.

“This is at a time when this need is great – when teachers want an opportunity for that extra focus to grow in mathematics instruction knowledge,” Dr. Tassell added.

“We want to thank the school administrators for their patience in allowing us to push some of the boundaries of what may not have ever been asked of teacher participants in an initiative before,” Dr. Maxwell said. “We hope it has been worth it.”

“The Toyota USA Foundation believed in this program and entrusted us with administering the vision in a quality manner,” Dr. Tassell said. “The Toyota MTLA Scholars have become our examples – they have shown their growth in Leadership, Mathematics, and Technology.  They are our models.”

Participants in the program include: Janet Cole, North Warren Elementary; Juanita Cole, Potter Gray Elementary; Erica C. Cutright, Alvaton Elementary; Stephanie Lee, Richardsville Elementary; Robert Lightning, Parker Bennett Curry Elementary; Emily Mills, W.R. McNeill Elementary; Rhonda Napper, Oakland Elementary; Allison Pearson, Lost River Elementary; Jamie Rector, Rockfield Elementary; Tanya Reeder, Dishman McGinnis Elementary; Neesa Richardson, William Natcher Elementary; Haley Victery, Plano Elementary School; Abigail Watkins, Rich Pond Elementary; Melissa Zimmer, Cumberland Trace Elementary.

For information, visit the Toyota MTLA website at http://wkumtla.weebly.com/index.html

Contact: Rick DuBose, (270) 745-5405.

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