Newswise — Through WVUteach, the West Virginia University Center for Excellence in STEM Education is set to produce nearly 25 STEM teachers each year, accelerating the pace of placing certified teachers in vacant West Virginia classrooms.
A $100,000 grant from the Eberly Foundation will support that effort through a master teacher assistant, allowing nearly 100 additional students to enter WVUteach over the span of four years, with 12 estimated to credential and enter the classroom following graduation each year. The remainder of these students will graduate with a STEM degree.
“The sole focus of WVUteach is to expand the number of STEM graduates so that they, in turn, can teach STEM fields in secondary education,” said WVUteach co-director Gay Stewart. “This grant will help us prepare a dynamic talent pool of highly-trained secondary education STEM teachers across West Virginia.”
WVUteach offers hands-on learning and classroom experience as early as the first semester of college, allowing most students to receive a degree and certification in four years rather than the average five-to-six. Moreover, retention rates are higher among UTeach teachers, who stay in teaching for an average of five years, compared to most post-baccalaureate model teachers who stay in teaching for an average of two and a half years.
“WVUteach is definitely one of the best decisions I have made since being at WVU. It not only gives you job options, but it also improves upon your public speaking skills,” said WVUteach student Mariah Murray, a chemistry major in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. “All of the instructors are really helpful. They care about your academic success.”
The need to increase the numbers of STEM teachers, especially in science and mathematics, is a state-wide concern in West Virginia. According to the West Virginia Board of Education, nearly one in every 18 West Virginia classrooms is led by an individual who is not a certified teacher.
“We are delighted to receive this generous support for WVUteach,” said Gregory Dunaway, dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. “This grant will no doubt have a tremendous impact on enhancing the mission of WVUteach and to create more opportunities for science and mathematics education in the region.”
Bob Eberly, president of the Eberly Foundation, said continuing the foundation’s long association with WVU by sponsoring this potentially game changing approach is exciting.
“We are confident that the program will prove successful and, indeed, may serve as a model for other colleges and universities throughout our country,” Eberly said. “We look forward to receiving periodic reports on the program’s implementation and wish you every success as you continue to serve the citizens of West Virginia in new and exciting ways.”
The Eberly Foundation’s grant-making activities are primarily focused on supporting undergraduate education at colleges and universities through scholarship endowments, programmatic support and endowed chairs and professorships. The Foundation also supports economic development and health and human services, as well as cultural programs and institutions within its geographic area.