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Alcoa Educator-In-Residence At U.Va. Center Shares Love Of Math And Science With Albemarle Teachers

January 28, 2000 -- Jill Cragg loves math and science. And thanks to the University of Virginia Center for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education and the Alcoa Foundation, the Albemarle County elementary school teacher has been able to take time off from her classroom to share her enthusiasm with other teachers.

Cragg is taking a year-long leave of absence from her job as the lead science teacher at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School to serve as the first Alcoa Educator-in-Residence at the U.Va. Center for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education. In this pilot program, Cragg travels to elementary schools throughout Albemarle County, offering suggestions, procuring new materials, and fueling the fire of classroom teachers.

"Jill has been extremely helpful researching new materials and methods to share with classroom teachers who are stretched for time," said Marlene Robinson, K-12 instructional coordinator in mathematics for the Albemarle County schools. "She's done co-teaching and provided one-on-one professional development for teachers, helping them see where new ideas fit in with the curriculum and with the SOLs" (Virginia's Standards of Learning).

Working with third-, fourth- and fifth-grade math teachers in Albemarle County, Cragg is helping to plan, put in place and evaluate the best methods of teaching the math concepts and skills required by the SOLs. Cragg is concentrating her efforts at four schools: Agnor-Hurt, Scottsville, Stone-Robinson and Yancey elementary schools.

"The educator-in-residence is a bridge between the University and the community," said Kathy Thornton, director of the U.Va. Center for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education. "Jill helps us strengthen ties between theory and practice by sharing her expertise and classroom experiences with college students, giving prospective teachers firsthand knowledge of how to apply their learning to actual classrooms. She also brings new ideas about teaching and learning to Albemarle County's elementary schools."

A math and science teacher for the past seven years, Cragg served on the Albemarle County School science and mathematics textbook adoption committees. As the lead science teacher at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School, she shared ideas with colleagues to help them make science more fun for naturally curious children.

As part of the educator-in-residence program, Cragg is teaching a course as well as studying at the Curry School of Education. She'll also attend state and national mathematics and science education conferences.

In recent years, educators, especially those in math and science, have come under fire as American children continue to perform poorly on international tests compared with children from other industrialized countries.

In Virginia, only a small fraction of the state's schools have succeeded in meeting the academic expectations set out in the state SOLs. Under current state policy, beginning with the class of 2004, students in Virginia must pass at least six of 11 final SOLs to graduate from high school. Schools that fall short of 70 percent of their students passing the SOLs risk losing their state accreditation.

"I hope we can expand this partnership between U.Va., Albemarle County and the Alcoa Foundation in the future," Thornton said.

For more information, call Kathy Thornton, director of the U.Va. Center for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education, at (804) 924-7565 or at kt4n@virginia.edu.

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (804) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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