Program hopes to bring on more science teachers

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — In an effort to bring more teachers to the classrooms, the University of Alabama will partner with local schools and educators over the next few years.

A number of city and county schools will be taking part of the Developing Leaders in Science Teachers program starting in the 2017-18 school year, the Tuscaloosa News (http://bit.ly/2pp58mN) reported. Students from the University of Alabama will be brought into classroom to shadow science teachers in hopes of becoming teachers in the future.

"They will either be assigned to the city or the county for those four years," said Dennis Sunal, director of the local program.

The program will include 15 scholarship students. They will spend the first year completing an Alternative Teacher Certification master's degree program. Afterward, the students will spend the next four years teaching biology, chemistry and physics in high school.

Each student will receive about $17,000 in scholarships. Once each student is working in a high school, they will get a $10,500 supplement in addition to their regular salary.

The program is funded through nearly a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. It will be funded through 2023.

Sunal said it's a struggle to find certified science teachers in Alabama and across the country in schools. He said that many who graduate from college last no longer than five years in academia.

"If you consistently lose a number of teachers, there won't be enough teachers to fill those positions," Sunal said.

Last year, the school board approved giving certified math and science teachers a $1,667 bonus per year and a $1,334 bonus per year for those with alternative baccalaureate certification.

Allison Mays, senior director of human resources at the Tuscaloosa County School System, hopes the program can be a pipeline to bring on more teachers who want to stay.

"We're excited for the possibilities this has for our students," Mays said.

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Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com


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