Innovation Grant to East Tennessee State University

ExxonMobil Foundation President Ed Ahnert  presenting check to East Tennessee State University team members Rhona Cummings, George Poole, Michael Marks, and Rick Norwood.

Washington, D.C.—The Department of Mathematics at East Tennessee State University has received a $3,000 innovation grant from the ExxonMobil Foundation for the improvement of the mathematics preparation of elementary school teachers. Members of the grant’s planning team are: George Poole, Anant Godbole, Rick Norwood and Michael Marks of the Department of Mathematics, and Rhona Cummings of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.  

The grant, announced at the recent National Summit on the Mathematical Education of Teachers, will allow a six-member team from ETSU and one from Western Carolina to discuss, plan, and brainstorm new initiatives in mathematics preparation for elementary teachers.  

The work funded by the grant is an extension of a new project which began this spring. This new project was based on the conviction that faculty members in the ETSU Department of Mathematics should and could work in close collaboration with their colleagues in the College of Education to improve mathematics preparation of prospective elementary teachers. 

 Many students in elementary teacher education programs are vexed by anxiety, frustration, lack of preparedness, and lack of success in mathematics.   And the roots of these problems often reach back to elementary schools.  The ExxonMobil Foundation is offering a total of twelve grants nationwide in support of the belief that the mathematics community can lead the way in providing good models for building the kinds of cooperative efforts needed for long-term improvement of teacher education.

In the grant proposal, members of the ETSU team wrote, “…we seek to alter the attitudes of young children towards mathematics by altering the attitudes and level of preparation for our prospective elementary teachers With a $3000 grant from Exxon, we believe we can make a profound start towards achieving our goals.”