Wayne State University to address urgent need for STEM educators

Get Focused in 2020 – Metro Detroit TRUE Project to offer advanced training for recent grads, mid-career STEM professionals


Newswise — DETROIT – Through support from the U.S. Department of Education, Wayne State University announced it is launching the Metro Detroit Teaching Residency for Urban Excellence (TRUE) Project, an innovative multi-sector partnership that aims to positively impact student learning, address the critical shortage of STEM teachers, and support the region’s workforce development. The $2.5 million project will target recent graduates and mid-career professionals with STEM expertise in the metro Detroit region, especially those in the automotive and technology industries who may be impacted by recent and planned plant closures.

To remain competitive in the global economy, it is important for the United States to be at the forefront of technological advances and scientific discovery. Without the ability to produce the next generation of breakthrough technologies and discoveries — or a STEM-based workforce capable of these advances — the U.S. will be eclipsed by other nations. Critical to remaining competitive is the need for American students to excel in STEM education, and in order for this to happen, the number of STEM educators must grow.

The Metro Detroit TRUE Project will prepare 36 diverse and highly qualified professionals as K-12 STEM teachers over an 18-month period, during which they will complete a master’s degree and receive their teaching certification, followed by a two-year induction period of mentoring and professional development. 

Keith Whitfield, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president of academic affairs and professor at Wayne State University, applauds the Metro Detroit TRUE Project’s innovative approach towards building pillars of sustainability in the region. “Having highly qualified science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educators in the classroom is vital to the development of our nation’s and region’s workforce. Through our investment in the Metro Detroit TRUE Project, coupled with other efforts at the university, it is our aim to provide students in Detroit Public Schools Community District and Dearborn Public Schools with the STEM educators and experiences that spark learners’ curiosity to explore STEM related concepts that they can apply in the classroom, community and the world of work so they can thrive in the new knowledge economy.” 

“The Metro Detroit TRUE Project’s curriculum will integrate two research-based innovations — culturally responsive STEM education and trauma-informed, socio-emotional learning — that are crucial in students’ academic and personal development in urban schools and communities, said Roland Sintos Coloma, Ph.D., assistant dean and professor in the Division of Teacher Education at Wayne State and principal investigator for the TRUE project. “The project will also allow us to develop a new curriculum that will ascertain teaching competency of the state’s new K-12 computer science standards.”

In addition to the culturally responsive STEM education and trauma-informed, socio-emotional learning curriculum, the project will offer year-long residencies in Detroit Public Schools Community District and Dearborn Public Schools, Michigan’s largest urban school districts. Embedded in two cohorts, TRUE residents will be immersed in urban ecologies, work closely with school-based mentor teachers and university coaches, and employ high-leverage practices for student engagement and achievement. Each TRUE resident will also receive a $40,000 living stipend during the first 12 months of the program.

“Detroit Public Schools Community District, like most large, urban school Districts, has a need for more teachers in STEM subjects. The TRUE project has the potential to help us fill openings in science and math classrooms with a diverse pool of teachers who are invested in improving outcomes for the students of Detroit,” said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, DPSCD.

In his letter as part of the grant request for the program, Dearborn Schools Superintendent Glenn Maleyko said, “As with many school districts around the State of Michigan, we struggle to fill STEM-focused positions such as science, math and computer sciences. With the need of high quality STEM teachers across the State of Michigan, we believe that this is a one of a kind opportunity to assist in the development of teachers who have industry experience to be our future leaders.”

The project’s process and impact will be continually and objectively evaluated, with the project team collaborating with an advisory board of stakeholders from various education, corporate, philanthropic and professional sectors to oversee progress, results and effectiveness. Metro Detroit TRUE Project partners include Wayne State University’s College of Education Teacher Education divisionCollege of Liberal Arts and SciencesOffice of the ProvostOffice of Vice President for Research, and College of  EngineeringU.S. Department of EducationMichigan Department of EducationWayne Regional Education Service AgencyDetroit Regional Chamber; Detroit Public Schools Community DistrictDearborn Public Schools; and The Engineering Society of Detroit.

For more information about the TRUE Project, visit http://go.wayne.edu/trueproject.

The grant number for this U.S. Department of Education project is U336S190025. The U.S. Department of Education is funding 43% of this project, totaling $1,111,126. The remaining 57% of the project will be funded by Wayne State University.

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit research.wayne.edu.

 

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