Shana Martin felt alone when she started teaching Advanced Placement Chemistry. With the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) online teacher cohorts, she now has a community of educators offering support.
Resources for success
Each month, NMSI coaches and AP Chemistry teachers from across Martin’s school district meet in an online forum to discuss lessons, resources, struggles, and successes in the classroom.
Before joining the online cohort, Martin knew the answer to chemistry questions but couldn’t always clearly explain to students why it was the answer. Through the regular online check-ins, the teacher at M.E. Stilwell School of the Arts in Jonesboro, Georgia, says it’s given her “confidence in myself and the content. Before, I had the ‘this is just what it is.’ Now, I have the why and the how, and that makes a difference to the kids.”
Online delivery is not new for NMSI, which is building on its experience to maintain and grow supports for students, teachers, and school systems across the country. Thousands of teachers and students who were scheduled for in-person sessions this spring received NMSI’s online-only trainings and study supports that are live and recorded.
NMSI’s interactive, live online student supports feature a coach providing time to study and review content for the AP exam. Gina Ruiz-Houston, an AP Physics teacher at Barbara Goleman Senior High in Miami Lakes, Florida, says the NMSI online student supports offered this spring have “helped tremendously. They present a normal human being in a normal situation bringing normal to a drastic situation we’re having right now.”
To help educators as they continue to adjust to online learning, NMSI also offers a set of free video lessons in math, science, and English. NMSI’s free lessons are available via YouTube and include work that students can do to apply what they have learned.
John Urschel, a former lineman for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, said he provided a video for the project because he wants to inspire more students to understand and appreciate math.
“Math is foundational to everything in our lives, and I’m happy to do what I can to show young people that they can be successful in it,” said Urschel, author of “Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football.” “I’m also happy to provide help to teachers and to families struggling to deliver online education. It’s a challenging time, but we’ll get through it together.”
Along with Urschel, NMSI’s video lessons come from teachers from across the country who each have a record of successfully preparing students for college. Those and hundreds of other teachers help NMSI deliver two of the nonprofit’s primary programs.
The Laying the Foundation program helps teachers (grades 3-12) prepare students for rigorous high school courses. The flagship College Readiness Program supports AP® teachers and students and helps school systems provide more equitable access to advanced courses.
NMSI also supports students of military members through its Military Families Mission. It increases access to computer science education and helps prepare pre-service STEM teachers through a partnership with the UTeach Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.
Mentioning NMSI’s philosophy to give all students an opportunity to take advanced courses, Ruiz-Houston says that it’s “beautiful NMSI is trying to help the kids who didn’t consider themselves as important enough to be scientists. Those are the people who change the world because it was hard for them, and they persevered.”
Founded in 2007, NMSI is a Dallas-based nonprofit that has reached more than 2 million students and 50,000 teachers across the country through in-person, online-only, and blended services. Find out more at nms.org.