By Sarah Tincher
The State Journal
West Virginia University will be furthering its STEM education thanks to a $1.45 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative, which will allow the school to establish a UTeach program, a unique teacher-training program for secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers.
The rigorous UTeach program attracts high-performing undergraduate students majoring in STEM fields to the teaching field and prepares them for careers as teachers in secondary education, WVU said in a Dec. 2 news release. The program allows students interested in these fields to earn both a degree in their majors as well as a secondary teaching certification without adding time or cost to their four-year degree program.
“This is truly a comprehensive effort across many disciplines,” Provost Joyce McConnell said. “It will require tremendous focus to recruit, prepare, develop and support the most highly qualified teachers, but that effort will yield not only more science and math teachers, but more teachers who will remain in those fields and contribute to the success of school-aged students.”
WVU's program, WVUteach, will be supported by the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and Human Services, and the Office of the Provost. It will be co-directed by Gay Stewart, director of the WVU Center for STEM Education, and Jeffrey Carver, director of STEM education initiatives in the College of Education and Human Services. WVU will officially launch its program with a kick-off event in spring 2015.
The key elements of the program include collaboration across colleges, student recruitment and support, compact and flexible degree plans, a focus on research-based strategies for teaching and learning math and sciences, early and intensive field teaching experiences, and personal guidance from master teachers and faculty.
The UTeach program has a successful track record as 81 percent of the more than 2,100 UTeach graduates have entered teaching. Of those graduates, 64 percent are teaching in the highest-need schools.
WVU is one of five universities to receive the five-year grant today. The other four universities are George Washington University, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Massachusetts Boston and the University of Nevada Reno. Five other universities received grants in spring 2014.