P347: Equipping chemistry teachers in high-poverty rural areas: An approach in the Mississippi Delta
The Mississippi Delta is the nation’s largest pocket of persistent rural poverty. The region has a critical shortage of highly qualified teachers in STEM fields, unequal distribution of resources across school districts, and many schools are classified as failing. In an attempt to clarify and quantify the needs in the secondary science programs, a survey of science teacher’s perceived needs was distributed. Qualitative and quantitative data was collected and analyzed, and needs were correlated to regional science learning outcomes. A database of programmatic, material, and training needs in each school district has been developed, and is being used as the foundation for building relationships and equipping teachers for success. Teachers’ self-reported needs and faculty efforts to alleviate those needs have led to innovations in the university course offerings, workshops made available to teachers, and grant funded project applications.