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Whatcom and Skagit Mathematics Partnership:
Building Communities of Learners and Leaders in Mathematics

This partnership is dedicated to jointly increasing mathematics achievement levels for all students (K-14) and narrowing differences between diverse student populations.


1. To increase the effectiveness of secondary school mathematics teachers.
  • Deepen teachers’ knowledge and understanding of mathematics.
  • Improve instructional practice by expanding teachers’ pedagogical understanding.
  • Improve WWU’s math education program and its development of preservice teachers.
2. To increase the leadership capacity of secondary school mathematics teachers.
  • Identify and develop a cadre of secondary teachers as education leaders and mentors.
  • Support and engage the cadre in visible leadership roles with all stakeholders.
  • Develop and implement a coordinated plan for using the cadre as mentors for preservice teachers, new teachers, and potential mentors.
3. To unite the partnership through an effective communication mechanism that involves mathematics teachers, science teachers, technology educators, and administrators.
  • Develop and maintain both an e-mail network and a website that meet the needs of secondary school mathematics teachers.
  • Develop a seminar series that engages administrators and teachers in addressing concerns  
  • mprove communication between K-12 school systems and partner IHEs, especially in the articulation of mathematics requirements.
4. To increase the mathematics achievement and participation of all secondary school students in partner schools and reduce discrepancies in disaggregated mathematics achievement data.
  • Increase mathematics achievement performance of secondary school students.
  • Increase students’ abilities to solve math problems and communicate solutions in many ways.
  • Reduce gaps in disaggregated mathematics achievement data.
  • Increase student participation in advanced math courses and beyond minimal requirements


Project activities were designed to meet the needs and priorities of partner schools, determined by an Advisory Committee. The project model was that of intensive summer institutes followed by monthly seminars on special topics throughout the school year.

Each project activity addressed two common themes:  (1) classroom teachers deepening their understanding of mathematics, and (2) pedagogical techniques that help all secondary students learn quality mathematics. Throughout the project, special efforts were made to help the participating teachers relate each project activity to their specific classroom situations.

The intensive summer institutes were designed to not only enrich the participants’ understanding of mathematics and relevant pedagogy, but also to create opportunities for teachers to interact with colleagues within and outside their schools.  Specific workshop sessions focused on:

  • Addressing curriculum issues (articulation, cross-disciplines, appropriateness)
  • Deepening understanding of mathematics ideas underlying school mathematics being taught (6-14)
  • Reaching special populations in regular mathematics classrooms (e.g. Russian, Native American)
  • Exploring pedagogical enhancements and new resources in mathematics education
  • Using reading instruction techniques to improve students’ learning of mathematics
  • Using technology to teach, learn, and do mathematics when appropriate
  • Designing a database of WASL-supportive items at all mathematics levels
  • Improving attention to special education populations within regular mathematics classrooms
  • Identifying, developing, and supporting a cadre of mathematics teachers as mathematics education leaders

In turn, the monthly seminars during the school year focused on special topics such as:

  • Teachers and administrators exploring the meaning and implications of mathematics education reform (6-14)
  • Techniques that help prevent failure in beginning algebra experiences
  • Mathematics, science, and vocational/career education teachers exploring how the teaching of mathematics can improve student learning in science and real-world settings (and vice versa)
  • Ways to resolve high school—college articulation issues in mathematics course requirements
  • Using manipulatives to teach mathematics (6-14)
  • Using research results to guide the teaching of mathematics (6-14).

In Years Two and Three, the project increased its focus on improving WWU’s program for preparing secondary mathematics teachers. Key elements included a review of course requirements in mathematics and generic pedagogy, practicum experiences, mathematics methods course, student internships, mentor roles, and support mechanisms for the first-year teacher.

The project website <mathnexus.wwu.edu> brings project experiences into mathematics classrooms each day as a collective resource for challenging problems, responses to teacher questions, follow-up to summer course experiences, and real-world uses of mathematics. It also includes announcements of conferences and workshops, humor, and mathematics history tidbits. 


The Whatcom and Skagit Mathematics Partnership was a three-year program funded by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the U.S. Department of Education Math-Science Partnership Program.


  • Bellingham School District
  • Bellingham Technical College
  • Blaine School District
  • Burlington-Edison School District
  • Ferndale School District
  • Lummi Nation Schools
  • Lynden School District
  • Meridian School District
  • Mount Baker School District
  • Mount Vernon School District
  • Nooksack Valley School District
  • Sedro-Woolley School District
  • Skagit Valley College
  • Whatcom Community College
  • Western Washington University


Jerry Johnson (Director)
Western Washington University
Harold Hansberry
(Activity Coordinator)
Western Washington University
Tony Jongejan
(Technology/Website Coordinator)
Western Washington University
Brian Rick
(Evaluation/Research Coordinator)



Beth Andres
Ferndale School District  

Marty Atkins
Bellingham School District
Chuck Devange
Bellingham School District

Greta Kocol
Skagit Valley College
Scott Smith
Mount Baker School District

Becky Spitznas
Sedro-Woolley School District
Sue Stubben
Burlington-Edison School District

Heidi Ypma
Whatcom Community College

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