Lincoln, Neb. -- State Farm Insurance of Nebraska has given $20,000 for fellowship awards to Nebraska teachers seeking to improve their math and science teaching skills.
The funding will enable 32 teachers to take graduate level courses tuition-free this summer at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes.
The summer institutes are part of UNL's Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education and offers continuing education and professional development opportunities to Nebraska teachers.
According to the university, the summer courses provide intellectually rich graduate coursework, intensive collaboration and the professional development teachers need to improve student learning and foster academic success.
State Farm established the fellowships through the University of Nebraska Foundation.
"Our company understands successful students are the result of an exceptional teacher," Angelene Hennes, of State Farm, said. "Therefore, the first step to student success is to have an outstanding teacher who inspires students to learn. Being able to support 32 teachers who enrich students' lives with greater understanding in math and science is a gift that benefits not only our company but all of the community."
According to the university, if 200 teachers take courses this summer, more than 10,000 students in grades K-12 will benefit from their improved teaching skills during the next school year.
Jim Lewis, director of the institute, said he and the highly motivated math teachers are grateful for State Farm's contribution.
"State Farm is leading the way in terms of local businesses improving math education in local schools by helping us reach more teachers," he said. "It's our goal to make Nebraska a model for a state where the math teacher workforce has a strong knowledge of the mathematics they teach, and as a result can improve achievement in the state."
The gift also supports the University of Nebraska's current fundraising initiative, the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities. One of the campaign's priorities is to increase support for student scholarships.
UNL has also extended a 20 percent discount on summer tuition to Nebraska teachers who participate in the summer institute.
Lewis said the teachers who benefit from the State Farm fellowship awards likely would not have been able to afford the summer courses. He believes more funding will allow the summer institute to transform education throughout the state.
"There are so many math teachers, that if the real goal is to benefit students, we need to find ways to reach a large number of teachers," Lewis said.
Courses are offered this summer in eight locations across the state, including Columbus, Hastings, Kearney, La Vista, Lincoln, Norfolk, North Platte and Scottsbluff.
For more information, see Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes' website at scimath.unl.edu/nmssi or call (402) 472-8979.