NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The College of Sciences and Mathematics at Stephen F. Austin State University has received a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant to develop Master Teaching Fellows within five East Texas school districts.

The grant will fund the new Texas Leadership Initiative: Mathematics Instruction Transformed (Texas LIMIT), in which 20 area middle and secondary mathematics teachers with master's degrees will be recruited as Master Teaching Fellows. These teachers, who will receive annual salary supplements of $10,000 for five years, will participate in leadership training, provide professional development, and serve as mentors and content specialists on their respective campuses.

The College of Sciences and Mathematics, in partnership with SFA's James I. Perkins College of Education, the Region 7 Education Service Center, and the Nacogdoches, Lufkin, Tyler, Palestine and Rusk independent school districts, crafted the initiative in response to a nationwide need for reform in mathematics education, according to Dr. Kimberly Childs, SFA mathematics professor.

"With the current crisis in mathematics education, it is important that we provide excellent professional development and leadership within public schools for mathematics teaching," she said. "Developing this cadre of teacher leaders in mathematics in East Texas schools will strengthen mathematics teaching across the region."

The new initiative represents the latest in a string of externally funded programs the SFA College of Sciences and Mathematics has established in recent years addressing science and math education. They include the Mathematics Science Partnership grant awarded by NSF in 2002; the Texas Teacher Quality Grant program to support in-service teacher professional development; and various grants from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the preparation of master math and science teachers.

"SFA was initially established as a teachers' college with a special service responsibility for preparing teachers for rural East Texas, and these origins persist in motivating our endeavors," said Dr. Anthony Duben, dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics.

"We have the responsibility and opportunity of properly educating teachers for schools in the region so that the beneficiaries of good instruction - the students of East Texas - will be competitive with any other student in the state, region or nation."

A new Center for Science and Mathematics Education will be established within the college in space vacated by the DeWitt School of Nursing when it moves to its new location in January 2010. The mission of the center will include preparing new science and mathematics teachers, providing professional development for area school teachers, and coordinating science and math education research efforts within the college.