The Northern New Mexico Math and Science Academy (MSA) was started in 2000 by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in partnership with the Northern New Mexico Council for Excellence in Education. Since then, over 300 teachers in Northern New Mexico have been part of the MSA program!
The goal of MSA is to significantly improve the math and science education in participating school districts—currently these are Chama, Española, Pojoaque, and Taos. This is accomplished through an intensive professional development program for teachers in these districts. Participating teachers make a three-year commitment to MSA, and are expected to devote at least 200 hours of their time each year (over and above that required by their teaching contract) to MSA activities.
MSA includes six core components: MSA Summer Institutes, MathCitement, Internet-based communication among MSA participating teachers, MSA Days, and MSA Team Teacher Meetings. The program begins with a three-week Summer Institute that includes two weeks of instruction in standards-based education and MathCitement, a one-week, stand-alone session focusing on math content and pedagogy. This is followed during the school year by collaboration and planning in content and pedagogy with other members of their Summer Institute cohort. The vehicle for this collaboration is an MSA teacher blog. Teachers use this chat group to read current articles on best practices in math teaching, post reflections about teaching, alert others to interesting articles, and conduct an asynchronous dialog that is mutually supportive.
In addition, MSA staff and coaches regularly meet with participants throughout the school year and conduct quarterly follow-up professional development sessions. The MSA staff and coaches consist of Dr. Lorenzo Gonzales, Carol Brown, Dr. Melissa Salazar and Zachary Leonard. Two district-level Espanola Public Schools mathematics coaches, Yanira Vazquez and Manny Espinoza, also conduct professional development of and classroom support for participating MSA teachers. Participating MSA teachers are also required to conduct two school-wide Celebrations of Learning that are designed to engage parents in their children’s learning. Finally, two “MSA Days” are conducted each year to give participating teachers the opportunity to share their reflective portfolios with other MSA teachers that they created over the course of the school year as well as engage them in a mid-year professional development opportunity. This cycle repeats for an additional two years.