Professor Provides Support to Local Math Teachers at Economically-Disadvantaged Schools

During the pandemic, educators have had to find creative ways to continuously adapt to the ever-changing circumstances of remote learning.

Dr. Melissa Boston, director of teacher education and professor of education, is helping local schools and teachers do just that.

In partnership with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3 (AIU3), Boston has worked to secure $65,000 from the Pittsburgh Foundation and $30,000 from the PPG Foundation to help fund the Mathematics Virtual Institutes Project. The initiative has helped local math teachers at economically-challenged schools prepare for this school year and obtain access to high-quality math education materials.

This latest effort continues Duquesne's commitment to promoting educational equity in the region's communities, as both faculty and students regularly support various learning opportunities in underserved areas. "Our goal was both to work with teachers to explore some virtual resources that they could use for teaching mathematics at the K-5th grade level and also to think about different activities and ways of presenting the mathematics that they teach," explained Boston. The project has specifically supported Penn Hills and Sto-Rox schools-two districts that have offered opportunities for Duquesne students to gain field experience.

headshot of Melissa Boston

"As a way of giving back to those schools, we wanted to see if there was anything we could do to help them get ready for the school year and the many challenges it would involve," Boston said.

While Boston helped to secure funding for this project, she also planned and delivered many online workshops and routinely checked in with teachers to see which resources have been helpful, as well as determine additional resources they may need as they pivot toward remote learning.

Tracey Price, a fourth-grade mathematics teacher of 23 years at Penn Hills Elementary School, has gained access to various new tools to use in her classroom as a result of this project. "I'm being exposed to a lot of different activities that I have never used in the past," she said.

"It's one of those Mister Rogers-type situations where we are all learning together," Boston said. "Sure, the teachers are benefitting, but we're also benefitting from working with them."

Boston said she and the many teachers she has worked with have all learned a great deal from this project. While circumstances have certainly made this school year a challenge for teachers and students alike, educators including Boston have provided a glimpse of hope by actively working to find innovative ways to continue providing excellent mathematics education to Pittsburgh-area students.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

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