A Million-Dollar Investment

Jan Koop, a Calvin College professor of mathematics and statistics, has received her fourth Improving Teacher Quality grant from the Michigan Department of Education.

To date, Koop has used grants totaling nearly $1 million to help area teachers better understand and teach mathematics.

“I think we are making an impact,” she said. “I’ve seen teachers who have completely turned around the way they teach mathematics, and that’s a win.”

The most recent grant, worth $200,000, is being used to help two teachers from West Side Christian School and 40 teachers at William C. Abney Academy, a charter school in Grand Rapids, Mich. that serves students in kindergarten through seventh grade.

“There’s almost no money for professional development anymore,” Koop says, “so in order to provide teachers with anything, we have to write a grant.”

Koop has worked with local teachers for more than 35 years. She says she has enjoyed seeing their attitudes about math change. She surveys teachers before the program starts to gauge how they feel about math and how they teach math, and again at the end of the 16-month grant period.

Koop says she hopes to bring life to math classrooms across West Michigan, helping teachers better understand what they are teaching so  students learn not only how to arrive at the right answer, but also why those answers make sense.

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