Project To Help Schools Find Teachers in Shortage Subjects

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Concerned about the need for new mathematics and science teachers in the state, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has enlisted the support of several school districts and businesses to establish a program that will train 20 to 30 teachers in 14 months.

The university has begun a nationwide search for college students about to earn bachelor's degrees in mathematics and science fields who--with the right incentive--might be interested in teaching as a career.

"The idea behind the program is to provide incentives to attract good students into teaching who otherwise would never have given teaching a thought," according to Klaus Schultz, professor of science education at the university.

Project Launched in June

The "Math-Science-Technology Education Project" will be launched in June. It will provide college graduates in chemistry, mathematics, physics, computer science, and related fields with the opportunity to work as teachers in schools and as employees in business firms--and to be paid for their work. Simultaneously, they will participate in courses, seminars, and work-shops that will enable them to earn a master's degree in education and be certified in the schools.

Students will be paid "the going rate" for their full-time internships, Mr. Schultz said. They will receive $6,000 for teaching half the year. (An additional $2,000 would go to master teachers to oversee their work). For their second job in business or industry, the interns would also be paid typical salaries for workers with bachelor's degrees, prorated for the number of hours they work.

Data General Corporation, Digital Equipment Corporation, First National Bank of Boston, and Hewlett-Packard Company are paying for the internships and are the first businesses that have agreed to hire interns.

Interns working for the high-technology corporations will help design school courseware and teach in company training schools to introduce workers to technological information and skills they will need in their jobs.

School systems from Acton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Lawrence, and Wayland have already agreed to take interns, and superintendents from 20 other districts have shown an interest in accepting some, saying that if they have vacancies, they will give "priority" to the students, according to Mr. Schultz.

"We know that every district isn't going to have a vacancy, so our goal is to line up 50 districts that are interested, in the hope that there are at least 10 with openings every year," he said.

"Many math and science teacher-training programs focus on retraining teachers," Mr. Schultz noted. "These programs are valuable, but with few teachers in the state under age 35, and a lot of retirements down the road just as a 'boomlet' of new students will enter the school systems, we're designing this program solely to train young people to enter the profession."

The department of education has sent brochures to the chairmen of mathematics and science departments at every college and university in the nation, Mr. Schultz says. He says he spends six hours a day on the phone with college faculty members who have close contact with students and who might point out those seniors who would be interested in the teacher-training program.

As yet Mr. Schultz is not deluged with calls from interested students.

"The average student in computer science is not thinking about teaching," Mr. Schultz said.

Vol. 02, Issue 24

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