“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”- William Johntz, Project SEED founder
Project SEED grew out of the vision of William F. Johntz to improve the success rate of all students, particularly those disadvantaged by poverty and racism. While working at Berkeley High School, Johntz saw that low-achieving students were hindered by their past academic failures. Traditional remediation often reinforced feelings of academic inferiority, leading to further poor performance.
Jonhtz’ background in mathematics and psychology sparked an idea to teach advanced mathematical concepts instead of topics that students had already failed to grasp. If students could master a challenging subject like Algebra, this would build confidence and overcome feelings of failure, freeing them to return to the basics with confidence. This new approach proved to be much more successful.
After initial success using this approach at Berkeley High School, Johntz continued the experiment by teaching advanced Algebra and conceptually oriented college-level mathematics to students in a nearby elementary school during his lunch hour and free period. The result of his experiment was astonishing: even though these elementary students had previously tested at or below the national average, they quickly grasped the concepts Johntz taught. By the end of the term, the elementary-level students had mastered advanced algebra concepts and improved in their basic skills. With this successful program, Project SEED was born.
In 1970, Project SEED became a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation and signed statewide contracts in Michigan and California. Since then, federal and local funding has led to SEED programs across the nation, in more than 20 states and dozens of school districts.
Aside from its supplementary instructional programs, Project SEED offers professional development for teachers, as well as workshops for parents and business professionals.
Funding for Project SEED comes from school districts, corporations, foundations, and individuals, all joined in the mission to reach students early and increase their chances for success as adults. The vision of one man, Bill Johntz, sparked a wave of revolutionary teaching methods in mathematics across the country.