ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Aberdeen Proving Ground leaders joined Harford County Public Schools officials to celebrate the expansion of the National Math & Science Initiatives program for local high school students at the HCPS headquarters in Bel Air April 30.The Initiative for Military Families (IMF) provides college-level coursework in science, math and English for students of military Families. The grant funding, provided by Boeing for Aberdeen High School and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) for Havre de Grace High School, will provide NMSI's Advanced Placement Training and Incentive program (APTIP).APTIP was launched in 2010 in four schools and in the first year, the AP math, science and English scores increased 45 percent; almost six times the national average.While it is the goal of IMF to provide excellence and continuity for students whenever and wherever their military Families are transferred, all students in participating schools may benefit from the program.APTIP research indicates that students passing advance placement (AP) courses in high school are three times more likely to complete a college degree.Dr. Robert Tombeck, superintendent of schools, hosted the event. Special guests included Dr. Arun A. Seraphin, principal assistant director for National Security and International Affairs, representing the office of First Lady Michelle Obama; Gregg Fleisher, national APTIP director; Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, commander of APG and the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command; Gary Martin, CECOM deputy to the commander; APG And Deputy Installation Commander Col. Orlando Ortiz; Dale Ormond, director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; RDECOM Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie; Joseph Wienand, ECBC technical director; Waldo F. Carmona, director, Networked Tactical ISR, of Boeing Defense, Space & Security; and DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald.Aberdeen and Havre de Grace are the first two county schools to be awarded the initiative; hopefully, others will follow, Tombeck said.He thanked Ferrell and APG for continued partnerships and support."We remain grateful for the strength and relationship between HCPS and APG," he said. "Thank you," he told Ferrell, "for all you do for this community and for your military sacrifices."Dr. Leonard Wheeler, president of the Harford County Board of Education, on behalf of the board praised the leadership and support efforts that brought about the grant and said the board "embraced the goal to support military Families."By expanding their achievements in math and the sciences they will become leaders better equipped at problem solving," he said. Seraphin extended his congratulations to the schools on behalf of the president and first lady."We feel this is an important part of realizing the president's goals in supporting our military Families and children," he said, adding that legislation is being moved to ensure everyone receives a science and math-focused education."The education push is very strong. Our focus will be to help kids get through the stresses of military Life. It's going to make a real difference here. We have already seen improvement in other schools around the country.""These are opportunities students didn't have before," added Fleisher. This grant offers all kinds of extra support, coaching, assistance and incentives based on success. We know Harford County will lead the way for the state. The important part is having the support of the White House."Monique Watson, a Havre de Grace High School junior, was one of two students asked to speak at the kickoff. Her father is retired Army, and Watson said she grew up a military brat who learned how to adjust to long absences, constant moves and schools without today's support channels."I believe this (NMSI) will generate an excitement for coursework that will elevate our studies to the next level," she said. "Having this opportunity will give me the ability to accelerate my path to a college degree and give me a competitive edge moving forward that I may not have otherwise received."School board officer Cassandra Beverley added that military issues are near and dear to her heart. Her father retired from the military after 24 years."He's the reason we moved to Aberdeen, and he sacrificed what he wanted after he retired so I could stay in school and graduate with my friends," she said. "Being in the military, you learn to embrace change. The military was my home when I didn't know where my next home was so I'm glad to see this happen. This is a big deal for my kids." NMSI & APTIPThe grant funding provided by Boeing for AHS and DoDEA for Havre de Grace High School will provide NMSI's highly successful APTIP. Both schools submitted a grant application and NMSI conducted formal site visits and assessments to gauge focus, commitment and potential success of APTIPThe goal of APTIP is to increase the number of students enrolled in math science and English AP courses.In addition, the program is designed to increase the number of students receiving qualifying scores of three or greater on AP exams. The four-tiered program incorporates teacher support (high quality, content-focused teacher training in addition to teacher mentoring and vertical teaming), student support (encouraging open enrollment and academic tutoring and study sessions), incentive awards (awards for student and teacher performance), and program management (employing expert teams and strong partners) as the proven elements of success.Specific goals for increased AP participation and qualifying scores have been set for both schools. Accountability will be tracked and assessed by NMSI at the conclusion of each of the next three school years.For more information, visit www.nationalmathandscience.org.