Thursday August 30, 2007

You Can Teach

A local consortium, including the University of Dayton, has won a two-year $850,000 grant to recruit mid-level professionals and prepare them for second careers as math and science teachers.

If you are a mid-career professional with a science degree, the state of Ohio wants you to share your knowledge with the state's young people by becoming a certified classroom teacher.

A local consortium including the University of Dayton and Wright State University this week won a two-year $850,000 state training grant to recruit up to 80 mid-career professionals with bachelor degrees in math, chemistry or physics and prepare them for second careers as math and science teachers in Dayton-area high schools.  

Through the Ohio Core training grant, administered by the Montgomery County Educational Service Center, the program provides free tuition for courses beginning in late October. The University of Dayton and Wright State University are offering either evening or online courses that lead to teacher certification.

The Dayton area, like virtually every large urban school district in the country, reports a shortage of qualified mathematics and science teachers, according to a study by Recruiting New Teachers Inc.

It's a fast-track effort: The teachers are expected to be provisionally licensed and ready to enter urban, suburban and rural classrooms in fall 2008, according to Frank DePalma, superintendent of the Montgomery County Educational Service Center. Each will be paired with a veteran teacher, who will serve as a mentor during the preparation program.

"The partnership provides a unique opportunity for practicing classroom educators and those involved in providing professional development at the university level to work together to ensure that every student in the Miami Valley has an appropriately licensed and skilled math or science teacher," DePalma said.

Other consortium partners include the Engineering and Science Foundation and the West Ohio EXCEL Center of Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education.

For the 2007-8 school year, approximately 20 math and 20 chemistry, physics and life science teacher candidates will be recruited along with an equal number of mentors. Those who want to teach math will enroll primarily at the University of Dayton, and those interested in life science, chemistry or physics will enroll primarily at Wright State University.

Ohio Core will require all students, beginning with the high school class of 2011, to complete a rigorous curriculum before graduating from high school and being admitted into Ohio's four-year state-assisted universities and colleges. All students will be required to take a second year of algebra and more lab-based science classes, as well as two years of a foreign language.

"Wright State University is so pleased to be able to work in partnership with other higher education and P-12 institutions to improve math and science teaching in the region," said Gregory R. Bernhardt, dean of the WSU College of Education and Human Services.

The Dayton region is not the only one struggling to find highly qualified teachers for high school science and math classrooms. According to a 2002 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, 37 percent of high school math teachers and 31 percent of science teachers lack a major or certification in their field.

It's time to take a collaborative approach to solving the teacher shortages, according to Thomas Lasley, dean of the School of Education and Allied Professions at the University of Dayton. 

"The power of the consortium approach is the partnership between the universities and the Montgomery County Educational Service Center," he said. "Given that the math and science problem of populating Miami Valley classrooms with highly effective and licensed teachers has not been solved adequately by individual institutions, we hope that a collective response will be of much more benefit to the region and to the state."

Bernhardt added: "This initiative will focus on areas of strength for UD and WSU and will marry our efforts with the outstanding abilities of the educational service center to identify the teaching needs of area high schools."

For more information contact Frank DePalma at 937-225-4598.