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Article - Gift enables teachers to do the math and science

Gift enables teachers to do the math…and science

State Farm Insurance of Nebraska gave a gift to the foundation for fellowship award for teachers desiring to improve their math and science teaching skills.

Posted: Wed, Aug 3, 2011

Imagine taking graduate level courses tuition-free.

This vision has become reality for 32 Nebraska teachers as a result of State Farm Insurance of Nebraska giving $20,000 for fellowship awards to teachers seeking to improve their math and science teaching skills.

They take classes at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes in order to not only better their skills, but also to add to the knowledge of their students.

Kyle Royuk, a recipient of the State Farm fellowship award, teaches geometry, statistics and pre-college math at Crete High School. Royuk said the award has been a blessing to him and his family.

"The money provided through this scholarship, along with fellowships from the university, allowed me to take these classes this summer," Royuk said. "Without this assistance, it would have been much more challenging to come up with the cost of the entire tuition."

The summer institutes are part of UNL's Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education and offer continuing education and professional development opportunities to Nebraska teachers. 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 this summer through the University of Nebraska Foundation.

Royuk completed the courses MATH 896 Geometry for Geometry teachers, MATH 802T Functions in Algebra and Geometry and MATH 806T Number Theory and Cryptology during the summer sessions at UNL.

"The classes I have had the privilege of taking have helped deepen my understanding of mathematics as well as approaches to teaching it," Royuk said. "The courses have been challenging, but at the same time they have helped me feel more enthusiastic about mathematics and excited to bring that knowledge and enthusiasm back to my students."

Courses are offered this summer in nine locations across the state: Columbus, Hastings, Holdrege, Kearney, La Vista, Lincoln, Norfolk, North Platte and Scottsbluff.

Jim Lewis, director of the summer institutes, said the teachers who benefit from the State Farm fellowship awards likely would not have been able to afford the summer courses otherwise. He believes more funding will allow the summer institutes to transform education throughout the state.

UNL has also extended a 20 percent discount on summer tuition to Nebraska teachers who participate in the summer institutes.

Royuk said he is very thankful to the people at State Farm Insurance who have made this experience possible.

"Through your generosity you have helped me grow in my profession as a math teacher. You have allowed me to meet and work with other amazing mathematics teachers from across the state. For these opportunities I am extremely grateful."

Student support is among the priorities of the Campaign for Nebraska. If you'd like to help support the graduate education of Nebraska math teachers like Royuk, please consider donating online to the Math Teachers for the 21st Century Expendable Fund or contact the foundation's Amber Antholz at 402-458-1182.

Questions about corporate gifts of philanthropy can be directed to Kaye Jesske at 402-458-1170.

Jessica Sorensen, a public relations intern at the University of Nebraska Foundation, wrote this story. Sorensen will be a senior in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Sorensen has studied four years of Spanish and volunteers at the Animal Humane Society.

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