More than 450 elementary, middle and high school teachers from eight states and 17 parishes and school districts across Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Zachary and West Feliciana, participated in the National Math and Science Initiative’s Laying the Foundation Summer Institute at Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge June 27-30.

The Laying the Foundation teacher training — led by a national group of expert classroom teachers — is a hands-on, professional development program that empowers educators of grades three through 12 with the strategies and resources they need to raise academic rigor in any curriculum and to engage and prepare students of all academic levels to think critically and creatively at advanced levels as well as build college and career readiness, according to Amy Ramos, communications director at institute.

“Teachers who go through the LTF training are expected to positively impact the learning experience for an estimated 45,000 students during the school year ahead,” Ramos said.

Erica Henry, Zachary High School’s assistant principal of instruction, attended the training along with 19 other teachers from the Zachary school district: Kristina Chaves, Kaitlin Ducote, Bryan Heikes, Tonya Jackson, Janet Maurin, Sholana Metz, Kayla Newman and Lori Russell, all of Zachary High; Tracy Achord, Brittany Gaines, Melissa Hodge, Michele Maddie, Shannon Mitchem and Ella Silva, Northwestern Middle; Brandi Pelissier, Mackenzie Richards and Carly Tamor, Copper Mill Elementary; and Megan Brown and Melanie Buell, Zachary Elementary.

“After only one day, our Zachary teachers were on fire taking advantage of the strategies they learned that they’ll use to elevate the lessons in their classrooms,” Henry said June 28. “The teachers are excited, and I’m excited. It makes me want to go back and teach.”

At the training, the teachers learned from other teachers through hands-on lessons how to creatively and effectively engage students of all academic levels in the core subjects of math, science and English.

“What we’re learning isn’t so that we can go back and teach straight-A students only — it’s so that we can challenge all students,” added Henry. “We’re hoping to encourage them through new ways of learning to take advantage of advanced placement courses, thereby setting a higher academic bar.”

Henry said she’ll take what she’s learned and share it with the departments at Zachary High. Next month, Zachary schools will meet with West Feliciana schools to discuss and share ideas, plan SAT sessions and other district-to-district events.

Techniques learned by the Zachary teachers and others who went through the training were concentrated in interactive math, biology, chemistry and English.

Support for the majority of teachers attending the training in Baton Rouge was provided by funding from ExxonMobil, the Department of Defense and a Department of Education Investing in Innovation grant.

“We believe teachers are one of the most important factors in the success of our state’s future workforce and hope that Laying the Foundation helps provide teachers with the tools, strategies and real-life solutions that will enhance math, science and English instruction in the classroom,” said Ken Miller, a Baton Rouge Area engineering services manager for ExxonMobil.

LTF Summer Institutes will take place at 25 additional locations across the country this summer.

Also, Zachary and area educators of math, science and English are planning to attend the National Math and Science Initiative’s four-day AP Summer Institute on July 11-14.