James Madison University and Virginia Advanced Study Strategies, Inc. Announce Partnership 

The Deans of James Madison University’s Office of Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) and College of Education (COE) and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Virginia Advanced Study Strategies, Inc. (VASS) today announced that a memorandum of understanding has been signed to begin a new partnership between the university and the nonprofit organization. 


Dr. Melissa Lubin, Dean of Professional & Continuing Education is “...thrilled to enter into this formal partnership. The natural synergies that exist between VASS, the College of Education, and PCE, will help us further our efforts in teacher development to meet the needs of today’s students. PCE is focused on providing quality educational opportunities to our local community, region, and state. Partnerships like this are such a vital component to economic development across the board.” 
 


Carol Fleming, Assistant Dean of Professional and Continuing Education shared, “It is with great excitement that we welcome Virginia Advanced Study Strategies to JMU. Having them be part of Professional & Continuing Education, a unit that responds to individual, business, and community needs through transformative educational programs and experiences, makes perfect sense. With both organizations having a focus on youth programs and teacher professional development, the partnership will do great things together.”

 
“This partnership allows us to continue to stay focused on supporting public education from a variety of vantage points. Providing professional

development resources for teachers to continue learning is critical for student success in classrooms. Similarly, teachers feel more accomplished when they are provided the knowledge, tools, and resources to create memorable learning experiences for students,” stated Dr. Mark L’Esperance, Dean of the College of Education at JMU.


Virginia Advanced Study Strategies, Inc. (VASS), is a non-profit education organization with a mission of developing and implementing innovative best practices in K-12 settings that align education with employer needs and assist schools in improving academic and career outcomes for students.  Founded in 2007 with an initial $13.2 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative through ExxonMobil, VASS has garnered over $33 million in public and private funding in just 12 years to support the preparation of students for college and careers and to conduct research for the United States Department of Education (USED) in its pursuit of creating new innovative education models. Since its inception, the organization has partnered with over 100 of Virginia’s public school divisions and has provided extensive professional development, classroom resources, and direct student support across the Commonwealth. 


Currently, VASS is led by a 14-member board of directors, two of whom include Dr. L’Esperance and Carol Fleming.  The organization has four full-time staff members who are now faculty members of JMU – Jennifer Stevens, President & CEO; Sandy Wilborn, Director of Programs; Darla Edwards, Director of Special Projects; and Amanda Adams, Director of Public Affairs.


 

“On behalf of the board and staff, I am thrilled for Virginia Advanced Study Strategies to become a part of JMU,” said Jennifer Stevens, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have been working with faculty members at this university for several years, and we have come to know and respect them as invaluable team members for many of our initiatives. In its 12-year history, VASS has accomplished a great deal, but this new partnership with JMU will certainly raise the credibility of our organization to new heights and make even more possible in the years to come.”  


One of the initiatives for which JMU has already been a partner with VASS is the Rural Math Innovation Network (RMIN), a research and development project funded by a USED Investing in Innovation (i3) grant in 2017. RMIN is a virtual networked improvement community of middle and high school teachers from 15 rural school divisions collaborating to integrate strategies into classroom instruction that increase students’ growth mindset and self-efficacy in mathematics.  Dr. Kenn Barron, JMU Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Motivation Research Institute, is a research consultant on the RMIN project and has provided training and support for staff and teachers throughout the project period.  

Another major initiative of VASS, a statewide talent pipeline network to support communities with their efforts to improve education and workforce alignment, will be kicked off in September with an event entitled The Strategies Xchange: Where Education and Business Align. The theme of this two-day conference, planned by VASS with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Department of Education as participating hosts, is “Strengthening Virginia's Talent Pipeline with Education-Business Partnerships.”  It will take place at the Hilton Hotel in Norfolk on September 16-17.  


For more information, contact:  Amanda Adams, Director of Public Affairs Virginia Advanced Study Strategies, Inc.  amandaadams@vaadvstudies.org  (703) 596-5620 www.vaadvstudies.org

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