Professor receives second grant for mathematics education program

February 10, 2009

McDaniel College’s newly established graduate program and national clearinghouse for elementary mathematics specialists and teacher leaders project (EMS&TL) will receive over $338,680 in funding from the Cisco Learning Institute (CLI) to develop online interactive modules for work led by Project Director and Professor of Education Francis “Skip” Fennell.

The multi-year grant will support the development of leadership modules to be piloted regionally and nationally and be a component of the Cisco Learning Institute’s initiative in support of elementary school mathematics specialists. Fennell will work along with the University of Michigan in the development of online modules. The project is slated to begin in the Spring of 2009 and continue through early Summer 2011.

“We would like to assemble a community that has a national vision, recognizing how to implement regionally,” said Dr. Helen Parke, executive Director of CLI.

Fennell is a mathematics educator and has experience as a classroom teacher, a principal, and a supervisor of instruction. A member of the McDaniel faculty since 1976, he recently completed a two-year term as president of National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

He is widely published in professional journals and textbooks related to elementary and middle-grade mathematics education. In addition, Fennell has played key leadership roles with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Research Council for Mathematics Learning, the Mathematical Sciences Education Board, the National Science Foundation, the Maryland Mathematics Commission, the United States National Commission for Mathematics Instruction, and the Association for Mathematics Teacher Educators.

"It’s important that teachers know about what they teach [content] and care very deeply about that knowledge and the children they are teaching [pedagogy],” says Fennell.

“This knowledge must be continually and consistently nurtured and strengthened throughout a teaching career.

“The challenges of being the building or district leader in elementary school mathematics are many and varied. Some of the very best teachers are, all too often, blindsided by these challenges which range from budgets to working with principals and parents and include the quest of finding the very best way to make the changes you absolutely know must occur to ensure student success in mathematics at the building or school district level.  Leadership must not be taken for granted as an integral component in the preparation of elementary school mathematics specialists and teacher leaders.”

Founded in 1999, Cisco Learning Institute of Phoenix, Arizona, forms partnerships with other learning organizations and collaborates on solutions that result in student success as impacted by teacher depth of knowledge and quality of practice.