Consortium announces agreement with LANL

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Education: Aim is to enhance professional development

The New Mexico Consortium (NMC) will become the new fiscal agent for the Northern New Mexico Math and Science Academy (MSA).  
The MSA is a teacher professional development program, sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to help improve math and science education in New Mexico K-12 schools.
The partnership with MSA has the potential to expand the impact of NMC research programs into NM elementary and secondary schools, and to strengthen the relationship between MSA and the New Mexico Universities.
MSA, founded by LANL in 2000, has operated under a partnership agreement with the LANL Foundation prior to the new agreement with the NMC, which took effect on March 14, 2012.
“MSA has been an important partner for the LANL Foundation over the past 12 years,” said Susan Herrera, CEO of the LANL Foundation.  “Together we learned about the importance of building sustainable partnerships with school districts in our region.  And together, we responded by working with teachers creating professional development programs designed to increase student learning.”
The Math and Science Academy was created by LANL to address the fact that  northern New Mexico K-12 students historically lag behind their national peers in math and science proficiency scores; in addition, Hispanic and  low-income students typically score even lower versus state and national averages. With almost 85 percent of northern New Mexico comprised of this demographic, the MSA was born to address these challenges and concerns, targeting schools and communities in northern New Mexico where most LANL employees live.
Since its inception in 2000, the Math and Science Academy’s mission has been “to significantly improve mathematics and science education as part of a larger systemic change initiative in northern New Mexico.”
As such, the MSA has worked extensively with the Chama, Mora, Taos, Pojoaque and Espanola  school districts, graduating more than 300 educators from its three-year  professional development program, positively affecting over 6,000 K-12 students.
The Math and Science Academy is a comprehensive teacher professional development program that consists of a three-year commitment by teachers to complete more than 130 hours of training each year.  Teachers receive a stipend for the hours they spend in the academy, and are taught/coached/mentored throughout the program by four full-time LANL MSA Master Teachers.  Several of the program participants have also had the opportunity to obtain an optional Master of Arts in Teaching Math and Science degree at NMSU, and an additional eight participants are pursuing a specially-designed doctoral  program in Educational Leadership at UNM.
The close relationships MSA has with UNM and NMSU, along with its basic mission to enhance math and science learning initiatives in northern New Mexico, make the Academy a logical fit with the New Mexico Consortium.
“We’re delighted to partner with the Math and Science Academy”, said Katharine Chartrand, Executive Director of the New Mexico Consortium.  “Our missions complement each other.  The NMC can assist MSA in obtaining and managing external funds so they can continue to build STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) content knowledge and teaching capacity in the northern New Mexico school districts as they’ve been doing for the past 12 years.  The MSA can help us bring our research programs to NM schools and broaden the impact of our research programs in the state.”
Dave Foster, LANL’s recently-retired MSA Program Manager, couldn’t agree more.
“We see many new potential synergies and leverage being under the NMC umbrella, which brings even greater operational linkages to the NM universities to complement our existing close contacts with their schools of education,” Foster said.  “The close NMC link to the LANL research and technical staff community and the LANL Institutes likewise should become valuable to MSA in the future as we begin to engage LANL students, postdocs, staff and retirees as volunteer subject matter experts to help bring more real world relevance and content knowledge to our MSA math and science teacher professional development programs.”