Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boost for Teaching

By Helene Ragovin

New program encourages math and science MATs for local schools

A new scholarship program in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will help students who plan to become math or science teachers at high-need districts by offering both financial support and mentoring.

At the same time, it’s hoped the program will help schools in cities like Boston deal with a perennial problem: a shortage of middle and high school math and science teachers.

“Across the country, educators agree that the need for math and science teachers is a crisis,” says Linda Beardsley, director of teacher education in the Department of Education at GSAS. “An example would be that in Massachusetts last year only six physics teachers were certified.”

With a recent $2.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Tufts will be able to offer eight education students Robert Noyce Teaching Fellowships each year for the next two years. To qualify, students must have an undergraduate major in math or science.

Noyce fellows will receive $20,356 to cover living expenses, plus full tuition for a Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and a year-long teaching internship in the Boston public schools. After graduation, teaching fellows must commit to teach for at least four years in the Boston public schools or a similar high-need urban district; they will receive stipends of $13,500 in addition to their regular salary for each of those four years. They will also be able to take one class per year at Tufts during their first four years after graduation and will receive mentoring and support from a community of master teachers and Tufts faculty.

The Noyce scholarship builds upon an already existing program in the Department of Education called the Urban Teacher Training Collaborative, which offers internships and mentoring at local urban public schools.

“I’m excited about this project,” says Todd Quinto, the Robinson Professor of Mathematics, one of the project investigators, who has been advising MAT students for 16 years. “My colleagues at Tufts and our partner schools and I will work together to provide our teaching fellows long-term support, and to help them become successful, effective teachers in urban schools,” Quinto says.

Quinto hopes Tufts math and science professors will encourage their undergraduate students to consider the program. Noyce fellowship applicants interested in middle school teaching must have an undergraduate degree in math or any field of science. Those interested in high school teaching must have a degree specifically in math, physics or chemistry.

Project investigators, along with Quinto and Beardsley, are Hugh Gallagher, associate professor of physics, and Bárbara M. Brizuela, associate professor and chair of the Department of Education.

For more information on the program, contact Patricia Romeo, department administrator in the Department of Education, at 617-627-2389 or patricia.romeo@tufts.edu.

Helene Ragovin can be reached at helene.ragovin@tufts.edu.

Posted October 17, 2010