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Posted 09.06.07

PIMMS Graduates 9 Fellows from Leadership Academy

Nine Connecticut mathematics teachers were named “PIMMS Fellows” on July 11 following 15 months of study directed through the PIMMS (Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science) Mathematics Leadership Academy (MLA) and a summer intensive program in 2007. This group – the first to earn the distinction since 2001 – will join more than 650 others awarded the title since the inaugural Vanguard Mathematics and Science Fellows of 1984.

The MLA project, directed by PIMMS in partnership with the Hamden and Ansonia Public schools, was initiated in Spring 2006, with training provided during the summer and throughout the 2006-07 academic year. Forty-eight teachers from 13 Connecticut school districts and two technical high schools participated. The new fellows – among them three high school and six middle school teachers – chose to extend and cap their MLA experience with a two-course, two-week intensive workshop in 2007, completing a total of more than 160 hours of training.

“I cannot even come close to expressing how beneficial this PIMMS workshop was for me,” says algebra teacher Gina Zaleski DeMay, from Thomas Edison Middle Magnet School in Meriden. “I am actually a late bloomer; I returned to school after having four children and am a fifth-year teacher. I absolutely love my job as a math teacher to young teenagers in 8th grade.”

The summer program was designed and taught by Robert Rosenbaum, the University Professor of Mathematics and the Sciences, emeritus and founder and Chair of the Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science (PIMMS) of Wesleyan.

The objective of the MLA project was to deepen teachers’ understanding of mathematical concepts and pedagogy, as well as to develop their skills as leaders and coaches. Workshops also addressed the use of software to enhance instruction in the classroom and for professional presentations, and provided guidance for analyzing school and district assessment data connected with the Connecticut Mathematics Framework across the grades. Teachers made presentations to their colleagues at department, school, and district meetings during the academic year. They also worked directly with teachers in their buildings to gain math-coaching experience. Through learning communities guided by a mentor, teachers had the opportunity to share their learning with other MLA teachers. They will continue their activities as presenters, mentors, and consultants.

“I am very excited to share what I have learned through PIMMS with students and colleagues, and I will continue to increase my mathematical expertise throughout my career,” says Fellow Paula Weinzimmer, who teaches grades five and six at Ferrara Elementary School in East Haven.

Summer 2007 training with Rosenbaum addressed conceptual frameworks of numbers and number systems, the geometry of two- and three-dimensional Euclidean space, and concepts and significance of non-Euclidean geometries – all in a historical context that highlighted the development and evolution of mathematics.

Rosenbaum, in his 68th year of teaching, at age 91, was impressed with the new group of fellows.

“Working with this group of dedicated teachers has been one of my most rewarding experiences,” he said, sustaining his belief that the development of cohorts of colleagues who are also friends represents PIMMS most important contribution.

Funding for the MLA project was provided by the Connecticut State Department of Education through the U.S. Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) Grant Program. The extended Fellowship training with Rosenbaum was funded by PIMMS.

PIMMS will continue its mission for a 28th year “to improve mathematics and science education for all students throughout Connecticut by offering high-quality professional development programs to teachers.” The new PIMMS Fellows will help in that mission as they share their learning with colleagues and students and serve as resource staff for future PIMMS training.

The other seven new PIMMS fellows are:

Susan Corriveau, a teacher for 30 years Cromwell High School. Currently, she teaches Geometry and Algebra II in grades 10-12.

Mindy Gottlieb, an eighth grade teacher at Flood Middle School in Stratford.

Sharon Keegan, a 27-year veteran teacher, and is currently a mentor and grade 8 mathematics teacher at Illing Middle School in Manchester.

Danuta Mullen, who has taught grades 9 through 12 (Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry) at E. C. Goodwin Technical High School for 19 years. Through the additional training, Danuta’s goal was to grow as a leader so that her colleagues could look to her “for moral, academic, and professional support.”

René Pietrosimone, a teacher for nine years. She currently teaches 6th grade at Ridge Hill Elementary School in Hamden.

Basilla Stevens, who has been teaching math for 13 years at Seymour Middle School, is currently teaching grade eight math and Algebra I.

Angela Swanepoel, who teaches grades 9 and 10, algebra and geometry, at Bunnell High School in Stratford.

For more information on PIMMS, go to: http://www.wesleyan.edu/pimms/.