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School of Education Faculty Members Form Collaborative Mathematical Skills Support Group for Parents, Guardians

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 11:12am | By: David Tisdale

Two University of Southern Mississippi (USM) faculty members hope the initiative they’ve formed with a community service agency to deepen the mathematics skills of parents and guardians will show there truly is power in numbers.

Dr. Erin Smith and Dr. Jo Hawkins-Jones, assistant professors in the USM School of Education, have created a pilot mathematical program known as Math Power, which is designed to help parents better understand math concepts and skills so they can help their children succeed in this subject area. To meet this goal, the duo has partnered with Families First for Mississippi, a non-profit organization providing academic and social support resources to families throughout the Pine Belt area. 

Math Power’s free programming includes hands-on learning activities and guided discussions with the goals of increasing participants’ math knowledge, helping them discover new strategies to tackle math concepts and skills, and ultimately becoming more confident about helping their children with math.

Dr. Smith noted that elementary and secondary school math curriculum has changed since the time many of today’s parents and guardians were in school, and the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards require today’s students to meet certain benchmarks that may not have been historically required.

These factors and others are challenges that, for parents, can cause “frustration in not knowing what to do,” Dr. Smith said, but she believes Math Power can help to address them.

“Lots of people have anxiety about math and their competency in the subject, and I wanted to help parents and guardians address these feelings and provide them with new strategies when I came up with Math Power,” Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Hawkins-Jones said Math Power tutors and other programming providers will include USM undergraduate pre-service teachers with expertise in elementary mathematics education. “It’s another great opportunity for USM to foster relationships with members of the local community, so they can know that we are a resource available to them,” she said.

Dr. Smith said the program also has potential be a source of information for research in this area, citing a limited amount of information in the field that examines parent and guardian skills sets in disseminating mathematics education to children in their care.

Math Power group sessions will be held at Families First for Mississippi’s Hattiesburg offices, located at 108 Sheffield Loop. The schedule of session dates and times is as follows:

*Friday, Sept. 13, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
*Friday, Oct. 11, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

*Friday, Nov. 8, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
*Friday, Dec. 13, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

For more information on Math Power, contact Dr. Smith at Erin.Marie.SmithFREEMississippi or Dr. Hawkins-Jones at Joyarketta.HawkinsFREEMississippi. For information about the School of Education, which is housed in the USM College of Education and Human Sciences, visit