Fall MathFest Includes CRMC Anniversary Celebration

COLUMBUS, Ga. - When area math teachers gather for the annual Fall MathFest at Columbus State University on Tuesday, Nov. 3, they also will participate in a larger, milestone event.

The event, a professional development seminar for K-12 teachers CSU’s RiverPark campus, will be part of a 20th anniversary celebration of the Columbus Regional Mathematics Collaborative.

The math collaborative, one of CSU’s outreach centers, facilitates the MathFest among its services and programs supporting teachers in 17 public and private school systems in the surrounding region.

The anniversary program will include a “math trail” activity, dinner and a panel discussion involving past CRMC directors and covering the math collaborative’s past, present and prospects for the future.

The math trail activity, following registration and a reception beginning 4:30 p.m. in the courtyard of Yancey Center at One Arsenal Place, will involve problem-solving related to elements of historic Columbus.

“Participants will walk through part of the downtown area, including the RiverWalk and portions of the RiverPark campus and solve mathematics problems related to buildings, signs and landmarks,” said Kenneth Jones, CRMC director. “We hope the math trail will provide an example of how teachers can create similar trails around their own schools that would help students see mathematics in the world around them.”

At 6 p.m., the gathering will move to the CSU Theatre on the Park lobby for dinner, followed by the panel discussion in the theatre moderated by Mary Lindquist, former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and former Callaway Professor of Mathematics Education for Columbus State. The panelists, former CRMC directors Helen Purks Collins, Susan Pruet, Ann Assad and Kathryn “Kitty” Fouche, will discuss the evolution of the math collaborative and present a favorite mathematics problem or activity that teachers can use in their classrooms. Jones, as the current director, will give concluding remarks, to including his vision for the organization’s future.

The math collaborative was established in 1989 with an $8,000 Ford Foundation grant as Columbus and two other cities joined 11 other mathematics collaboratives in larger, urban areas under Ford’s Urban Mathematics Collaborative project designed to improve math education in inner-city schools and identify new models for meeting the ongoing professional development needs of teachers. Columbus’ was the first regional collaborative and the first to include rural schools.

Frank Brown, CSU’s president emeritus, was instrumental in establishing CSU as the CRMC home. He secured additional funds from the college’s foundation and arranged for Purks, as the first director, to work from a small office on campus. She worked with local business leaders, including Bill Feighner and Gene Demonet, to set up CRMC’s first advisory board.

The CRMC has subsequently thrived with funding from the Improving Teacher Quality Program, administered by the University of Georgia. Other large grants have come from the John and James L. Knight Foundation and Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing. Member school systems also pay a yearly membership fee to support the programming.

CRMC membership provides access to a library of print resources, manipulatives and technology resources, which are available for checkout. Teachers from member systems also receive discounted or free registration to CRMC workshops throughout the year. They also have access to CRMC’s elementary, middle school, and high school resource teachers who conduct workshops and teach demonstration lessons in the schools.

The CRMC remains rooted in the Ford Foundation’s early premise that “collegiality among professional mathematicians can reduce teachers’ sense of isolation, foster their professional enthusiasm, expose them to a vast array of new developments and trends in mathematics and encourage innovation in classroom teaching,” said Jones. “Many teachers who have participated in CRMC workshops and events throughout its history have become leaders in the field of mathematics education at the local, state and national level.”

The cost for Tuesday’s event is $15, and registration information is available on the CRMC Web site at http://crmc.colstate.edu or by calling 706-568-2480.