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MHC & Madison Schools Receive Grant for Teacher Training
Mars Hill College, in collaboration with Madison County Schools, has received a prestigious NC QUEST grant from the Department of Education worth $282,000, which will be used to train teachers in the most current methods of research-based instruction.
The funding for this highly-competitive NC QUEST (North Carolina Quality Educators through Staff Development and Training) grant comes from NC’s appropriations under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. The Grant Project, titled “Problem Solving Model Leadership Initiative,” is an 18-month initiative designed to increase the number of at-risk students who meet or exceed state standards in literacy and mathematics.
The grant was co-written by Dr. Chris Cain, Associate Professor of Education, and Dr. Kathy Ray, Madison County Schools Exceptional Children’s Director. Mars Hill College is one of only two private colleges in the state to have ever received the grant.
According to Cain, the primary focus of the grant monies will be providing several series of teacher training sessions in the most current methods of research-based instruction for Madison county core subject area teachers.
“The focus of this grant is to provide training for current teachers on the newest methods, models and regulations set forth by the state,” Cain said. “Every core subject teacher in Madison County will receive training in sound research-based instruction, and methods which meet the needs of all students in the most effective way possible.”
Another exciting aspect of this “research-driven” instruction, according to Cain, is that it trains teachers to use data to inform and mold their instruction methods. This “response to intervention model,” is intended to help teachers identify specific areas where students are struggling, and adjust teaching methods to respond to those needs
“Using these methods, teachers constantly evaluate, as opposed to waiting for end-of-year testing,” he said. “So as a teacher, I’m constantly looking at the data, and if you as a student aren’t responding to instruction, then I have to change what I’m doing.”
According to Dr. Kathy Ray, using these methods of constant evaluation would allow teams of teachers to discuss each student’s needs, and address individual needs before they become impediments to success.
“This is highly sought after training for teachers, which is often hard to come by” Ray said. “We’re just so fortunate, here in Madison County, to have such a wonderful partnership with an institution that is attuned to the needs of educators like Mars Hill College.”
According to Dr. Deb Morris, Associate Professor of Education, Mars Hill College students will also benefit from the grant programming because 30 education majors will be chosen to participate in the training with local teachers.
Morris, as department chair, described the Mars Hill Education Department as “ecstatic,” about the grant. “From our perspective this is part of an ongoing effort to move our graduates forward and to put them on the cutting edge of research based instruction. It’s just a win-win situation for everyone,” she said.
Mars Hill College President Dan Lunsford said: “This grant is evidence of the excellent partnership that the Mars Hill College education department enjoys with local teachers and school systems. That ongoing relationship allows our faculty to be current in their awareness of the expectations of the public schools and helps them prepare prospective teachers for their careers at a higher level than if they did not have that involvement. I see this grant as an opportunity for our faculty to provide invaluable services to teachers in the field. But also, the opportunities for our students to sit in on this training, allows them greater appreciation of what the challenges will be when they become teachers in their own right.”