Program to recruit science and math teachers receives $1 million gift

FSU-Teach, a teacher development program co-administered by Florida State University’s College of Arts and Sciences and College of Education, is the recipient of a $1 million gift from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI).

With the funds, FSU-Teach will continue its now six-year-old mission of recruiting more FSU math and science majors into the teaching profession and preparing them for the challenges of the classroom.

“FSU-Teach represents an important step in helping Florida — and the nation — to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging global economy,” said Florida State President Eric J. Barron.

In 2007, Florida State received its first gift — in the amount of $2.4 million — from NMSI to establish FSU-Teach, a program modeled after the highly successful UTeach program at the University of Texas at Austin. At the time, FSU-Teach also received $1 million of endowment support from the Helios Education Foundation, a Florida-based private foundation.

Six years later, the success of FSU-Teach has garnered additional support. Citing the exemplary benchmark achievements of FSU-Teach, NMSI has signed an endowment fund agreement, pledging an additional $1 million to support the program. Part of that funding will be used to recruit promising mathematics and science majors to explore teaching, to provide materials used in creating research-based lessons, to support teacher mentors to give in-depth feedback on students’ lesson attempts and to provide internships so that students can work closely with faculty in mathematics and the sciences to deepen their knowledge.

FSU-Teach encourages math and science majors to enter the teaching profession through a double-major in which students graduate with majors both in mathematics or a science (biology, chemistry, environmental science, geoscience or physics) and secondary science or mathematics teaching. At its heart, the program includes early and continuous teaching experiences for undergraduates, such as engaging opportunities with mathematics and science faculty and close mentorships with master teachers. Since its creation, FSU-Teach has produced 39 graduates.

“We are on track to double the number of students that our former science and mathematics education programs graduated each year,” said FSU-Teach co-director Sherry Southerland, a professor in the College of Education. “We had 220 students enrolled in the program in 2012. We’re really starting to see some tangible results of our efforts to produce more mathematics and science teachers, as well as ensuring that these teachers are better prepared for the realities of the classroom.”

The program’s other co-director, Ellen Granger of the College of Arts and Sciences, pointed to some of the program’s early successes.

“Even though our first graduates have only been in the classroom for a year, several are already garnering praise and awards from their schools and districts,” Granger said.

Ashley Hamill Murphy, a graduate of the FSU-Teach program who is currently teaching in a local middle school, said the program prepared her well for teaching.

“During my first week of work as a teacher, I participated in more seminars than I can list,” Murphy said. “To many teachers, what was being taught was brand new information. To me, much of it was material I learned on day one of Step 1 (the first FSU-Teach course), and it was consistently reinforced throughout my FSU-Teach career. I still have so much to learn, but as I start my career, I am very thankful for the solid foundation I’ve been given.”

NMSI is an innovative, not-for-profitorganization whose mission is to address one of the nation’s greatest economicand intellectual challenges — to increase students’ performance in STEM fields— science, technology, engineering and mathematics —and better equip studentsfor careers in those fields.