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UVI Receives $300K Grant to Strengthen Science and Math Education

The University of the Virgin Islands has received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to strengthen kindergarten through 12th grade science and mathematics education in the territory. The two-year Math Science Partnership-Start (MSP-Start) planning grant is a partnership between UVI, the VI Department of Education (VIDE) and the VI Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR).

Other community stakeholders, including teachers, school administrators, teacher training faculty and scientists will work together to better understand what Virgin Islands students need during their K-12 education to enable them to perform better in higher education and in the workforce. The grant award goes into effect on Oct. 1.

"The Math Science Partnership-Start Grant, from the National Science Foundation, has presented the University and the Department of Education another opportunity to celebrate the advantages and the power of partnerships and collaboration," said UVI President Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster. "Working together and involving the VI community, UVI, VI-EPSCoR and the Department of Education will develop a strong plan to strengthen K-12 math and science education in the territory," she said.

President Ragster has pledged the University's support. "This is a very important partnership and initiative, one that has the commitment of the University and the hopes of all partners for the positive impact it can have on the future of the territory," she said.

"The Department of Education is excited about this grant and the opportunity that it provides for improving math and science education in the Virgin Islands," said Department of Education Commissioner Dr. La Verne Terry. "We look forward to strengthening and advancing our partnerships with UVI, VI-EPSCoR and the entire VI community."

Dr. Meri Whitaker, director of VI-EPSCoR, explained that to meet the objectives of the grant proposal a comprehensive evaluation will be made of science and mathematics education from kindergarten through 12th grade in the territory. "The idea is to take a broad look at what's going on in the territory in science and mathematics education, then to come in and say 'here are some priority areas where we would like to really make a difference,'" Dr. Whitaker said. Stakeholders will ask the question, "How can we improve what we are doing to make sure that our teachers, all the way from kindergarten through the end of high school, are much better strengthened than they are to provide a strong education," she said.

The program's goal is to develop a long-term plan to strengthen K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, and increase students' preparedness for higher education and the workforce by means of a productive and sustained partnership among key stakeholders.

"The outcome of the grant will be a plan describing how we will improve the numbers and academic strength of students in VI schools in the areas of mathematics and the sciences," Dr. Ragster said. It will ensure that VI students have many educational and career options involving science and or mathematics because they are better prepared in the areas and are more aware of the possibilities open to them, she added. Dr. Whitaker said meeting the grant proposal's objectives will also better qualify the territory to pursue larger NSF grants.

The project team includes principal investigator Dr. Jennifer Spillman of UVI's Science and Mathematics Division, co-principal investigator Ludence Romney of the VIDE St. Thomas/St. John District, co-principal investigator Dr. Paul Abney of UVI's Education Division and co-principal investigator Dr. Michelle Peterson of UVI's Science and Mathematics Division.

For more information call Dr. Jennifer Spillman at 692-4028.