$100,000 to FSU-Teach will boost training of math, science teachers

Florida State University President Eric J. Barron.

The Florida State University FSU-Teach program — which trains math and science majors to become much-needed math and science classroom teachers — has received a $100,000 share of a $500,000 donation from AT&T to the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI).

Florida State is one of five universities among which the AT&T contribution to NMSI will be divided to support programs modeled after UTeach, a highly successful initiative that originated at the University of Texas-Austin in 1997 and enables students majoring in math, science or computer science to receive full teaching certification without adding time or cost to their degrees.

Since 2008, NMSI has partnered with the UTeach Institute to implement the path-breaking program for recruiting and preparing math and science teachers in universities across the country. Florida State was one of the first universities to implement the program –– and, in the past three years, FSU-Teach has seen enrollment in its math and science teaching coursework triple, according to the program’s co-directors, Ellen Granger and Sherry Southerland.

“Our economy demands workers and citizens who are prepared to develop and use mathematics and science knowledge to solve real-world problems,” said Florida State University President Eric J. Barron. “Meeting this demand requires mathematics and science teachers who can effectively teach students in ways that equip them to apply and use their knowledge. Through their support of FSU-Teach, AT&T is forging a partnership between private industry and public universities, and such partnerships are essential if we are to both attract the top students into teaching and support the education of this new breed of teacher.”

Mary Ann Rankin, CEO of NMSI, said the support from AT&T would help to create a new generation of math and science teachers in the United States, which needs an additional 280,000 math and science teachers by 2015.

AT&T Florida President Marshall Criser III said his company was acutely aware of the nation’s need for more skilled workers in the critical fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“All Americans will need to be more STEM proficient to be competitive in the 21st century,” Criser said. “We are proud to be supporting UTeach, which is providing the solution and inspiration on campuses nationwide to move our country forward.”

Nationwide since 2008, enrollment in science and math majors has increased significantly at UTeach replication sites, which to date have been established at 29 universities.

“Demand for the UTeach program continues to grow,” Rankin said. “This proves that more college students will seek careers as math and science teachers if you provide an approach that makes sense. What we must do now is engage more far-sighted corporations such as AT&T — as well as foundations, and state governments –– to take this proven program to more college students across the nation.”

Granger said the core elements of the FSU-Teach program include:
· Active recruitment and incentives, such as reimbursement (from an endowment fund established for FSU-Teach) for tuition for the first two courses so that students can discover for free if teaching is for them.
· A compact degree program that allows students to graduate in four years with a double major — one in mathematics or a science and one in mathematics or science teaching.
· A strong focus on acquiring deep content knowledge in math and science, in addition to research-based teaching strategies focusing on teaching and learning math and science.
· Early and intensive field teaching experience, beginning in the FSU-Teach students’ first semester and continuing throughout the program.
· Close involvement of mathematicians and scientists to shape students development as teachers
· Personal guidance from experienced master teachers, FSU faculty and public school teachers.

Visit the FSU-Teach website and watch an FSU-Teach video to learn more about math and science teacher recruitment and training efforts at Florida State University.

In addition to FSU-Teach at Florida State, the AT&T donation to NMSI will be divided among U-Teach replication programs at the University of California at Berkeley; the University of California at Irvine; the University of Northern Arizona; and the University of Florida.