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MSMS and MUW Work Together Making Mississippi's Math Teachers True CHAMPS

MSMS Math Instructor Lauren Zarandona leads a group of Mississippi math teachers at the 2017 CHAMPS program.

MSMS Math Instructor Lauren Zarandona leads a group of Mississippi math teachers at the 2017 CHAMPS program.

COLUMBUS, Mississippi -- The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, in partnership with the Mississippi University for Women, is sharpening the skills of the state’s mathematics teachers.

For two weeks, 66 kindergarten-through-eighth-grade teachers, representing more than a dozen different Mississippi school districts and more than two dozen individual schools, have taken part in CHAMPS (Creating High Achievement in Mathematics and Problem Solving). The program, which is celebrating its fourteenth year, is the result of a partnership between MSMS and MUW’s Office of Innovation and Outreach.

During CHAMPS, teachers from all over the state learn new and exciting practices for mathematics instruction from some of the best math educators in the state and country including MSMS mathematics instructor and Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching recipient, Lauren Zarandona.

“In order to reach every learner a teacher must consider lessons and concepts according to how the student thinks and not how the teacher thinks,” she said. “Many [teachers] were taught that ‘if you follow these steps you will get this answer’ but the way tests are written now, it’s not about a certain set of rules it’s about how you think about the problem, which means your lessons have to provide ways for kids to think rather than just providing something for them to do. So I hope the teachers who have attended CHAMPS walk away feeling challenged to give students something to think about and not just hand them an algorithm.”

CHAMPS participants Hollie Henry and Ashley Grubb. Both are math teachers at Brookhaven, Mississippi's Lipsey School.

CHAMPS participants Hollie Henry and Ashley Grubb. Both are math teachers at Brookhaven, Mississippi's Lipsey School.

Teachers came from all over Mississippi to attend the program. Most were from the Golden Triangle area, but many also hailed from areas including Monroe, Kemper, Lee, and Lincoln counties.

“I’ve loved every minute of [CHAMPS],” said Hollie Henry, a sixth grade math teacher from Lipsey School in Brookhaven, Mississippi. “I’m so excited to get back into the classroom to incorporate the skills and strategies we’ve learned to help our students.”

Ashley Grubb, a fifth grade math teacher also from Lipsey School echoed her colleague’s sentiment.

“There’s so much I’ve learned over the past two weeks,” she said. “If you haven’t had a chance to attend CHAMPS you should really do so.”

Professors and professional educators are not the only ones engaging in the two week event. Also in attendance is CHAMPS volunteer and Lake Cormorant, Mississippi native, Haley Hsu. Hsu is a 2017 MSMS graduate who first learned of the program while serving as a work service student with the MSMS mathematics faculty.

“I think this experience is incredibly enriching,” she said.  “I really love working with these teachers. They are such hard workers.”

Hsu will attend the University of Southern California in the fall.

CHAMPS is open to all Mississippi K-8 math teachers. Applications to next year’s program will be made available on February 10, 2018. A one-day CHAMPS event will also be held on the MUW campus on February 10, 2018. Information about that event and CHAMPS can be found at www.muw.edu/champs. More information about MSMS can be found at www.themsms.org.