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SUNBEAMS Awarded Grant

Rhoda Sommers, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education and Human Development at Malone University has announced that -- for the fourth consecutive year -- the school has been awarded an Ohio Board of Regents Improving Teacher Quality grant of $99,472.32 for summer 2011-spring 2012 to partner with area school districts including Canton City, Massillon City and Plain Local. The grant targets the professional development of pre-K and kindergarten teachers with a focus on math and science literacy and special attention being given to addressing the needs of all students, including English language learners and students with specific disabilities. Support for the SUNBEAMS program was/is provided by the grant under the federally funded Improving Teacher Quality Programs, administered by the Ohio Board of Regents. To date, Malone University has been awarded a total of $400,000.00 in grant monies to fund the project.

The program, Project SUNBEAMS (Students Understanding the Natural-world by Broadening the Education and Application of Math and Science), will focus on partnering with local urban first and second grade teachers by providing training, materials, resources, and ongoing support in the areas of math and science instruction at the early childhood level. This summer, 30 teachers will participate in training workshops for graduate credit, then implement ideas and strategies – as well as train 30 of their peers—in the models and methods they will be learning. 


The goals of SUNBEAMS are: 1) To develop the capacity of teachers to understand and utilize integrated math and science methods and standards-based content in Pre K and K classrooms; 2) To improve student achievement and learning outcomes as measured by teachers’ reports of students’ acquisition of science and math content/skills and technology skills; 3) To build professional learning communities within the schools through discussion and action research; and 4) To equip special educators, teachers of students whose primary language is not English, and early education teachers within high needs LEAs with a greater understanding of and specific strategies for differentiating instruction with cultural diversity, poverty, and special needs in mind.

The project is co-directed by Beth Clark-Thomas, Ph.D., professor of elementary education and Nancy Varian, Ph.D., director of the Malone University School of Education Center for Professional Development.