Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Lori West, along with other Lee faculty, led the community project for a second consecutive year through an Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) Grant awarded by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
The MIB2.0 program represents Lee’s ongoing initiative to positively impact high school faculty and students in Southeast Tennessee. This year’s plan was to recruit matched pairs — a biology and mathematics teacher — from local high schools to participate in the workshop and followup instruction.
Twenty teachers participated in MIB2.0 and are from various districts in East Tennessee including Blount, Bradley, Hamilton, McMinn, Rhea and Sevier counties, along with Cleveland City Schools.
“I am honored to have the opportunity for the second year to work with local high school teachers,” said West. “I love meeting the teachers, hearing their stories, and collaborating with them.”
West added the goal is for teachers to leave not only with new ways in which to teach or integrate the mathematics common core standards, but for them to also be provided with the equipment necessary to perform experiments in biotechnology.
“I was happy to return this year to learn more about using the new equipment our school received,” said Melissa Mynatt, a biology teacher at Seymour High School. “Schools have a hard time funding these kinds of biology labs, and this program helps with that. This whole experience was so helpful.”
While the MIB2.0 workshop continued to consider application of probability and statistics and modeling common core standards to the analysis of data, the focus shifted slightly to population genetics.
The workshop provided professional developmental assistance to mathematic core standards in the biology curriculum, while emphasizing comprehensive scholastic improvement.
Brian Kranz, a biology teacher at East Hamilton High, said, “I leave MIB2.0 with a greater sense of confidence to incorporate a more rigorous math standard in my biology classes. The workshop has also given me the opportunity to start a partnership between the science and math departments which will greatly benefit our students.”
Many members of Lee’s faculty participated in workshop instruction. Drs. Sherry Kasper and Lori West were involved in the biology instruction and experimentation.
Drs. Blayne Carroll and Debra Mimbs were involved in the mathematics instruction, while Dr. Eric Moyen was involved in instruction in pedagogy.
Dr. Laura Singletary was involved with pedagogy specific to mathematics and Dr. Michael Freake served as a guest scientist sharing his research in population genetics.
“I am very impressed with Lee's biology, mathematics, and education faculty,” said Jim Marlowe, MIB2.0 participant and biology teacher at Boyd Buchanan. “They are enthusiastic about their disciplines, enjoy teaching, and model what I think a great teacher should be. I feel blessed to have been one of their students this week, and I hope to follow their examples and use mathematics in my biology classes more consistently and meaningfully.”
West is trained in biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, and has taught DNA techniques for the past seven years, performing graduate and postdoctoral research in DNA mutagenesis.
The THEC was established in 1967 for the purpose of coordinating and supporting the efforts of higher education institutions in Tennessee. The ITQ program falls under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and is the largest federal platform for professional development to improve teaching and learning.
West adds, “We are grateful to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for this opportunity and hope to be able to continue these types of programs in the future.