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Jackson State to Shape More Science Teachers

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 29 Nov 2011 03:16pm | comments
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Jackson State University is developing a program to put more scientists in k12 classrooms. It’s called the Teacher Residency Academy Alliance and as MPB's Southern Education Desk reporter, Annie Gilbertson, reports it is recruiting the inaugural 28 science teachers to study at Jackson State.

Jackson State is hoping its new program will make a dent in the shortage of qualified science teachers, especially in predominantly black schools where the need is greatest.  The National Science Foundation, which is funding the projects, says black students are less likely to have highly qualified teachers than their white peers.  That’s why the foundation is funding the new Teacher Residency Academy Alliance and recruiting people with science degrees and students studying science into a masters program focused on science education.

Evans: I like to experience new things so teaching, it would be new for me.

Anthony Evans is a recent graduate of JSU.  He works as a computer technician now, but he says he's seriously considering taking a pay cut for a meaningful teaching experience.

Evans: Dr. McHenry made it sound pretty tempting.  The hours.  9 months!  That’s pretty tempting.

Dr. Bill McHenry heads up the residency academy which JSU is sharing with Xavier University in Louisiana, both historically black colleges.   He said his goal is twofold - get scientists into the classroom so more scientists come out of the Mississippi education system.

McHenry: For our economy to further develop, we need many technical folks to develop products as well as increase our knowledge in these areas.

Julia Clark of NSF oversaw approval of the one million dollar grant to JSU and Xavier and says, in efforts to keep these new teachers in the classroom, the foundation is offering each a lifetime of mentorship.

Clark: We hope that they will be so pleased, so motivated and so turned on through this program, and they will remain in the field.

Clark also said, if the program model proves successful, NSF will look to support its expansion to other schools across the country.

From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I'm Annie Gilbertson.

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