College graduates interested in becoming high school science, math and technology teachers can now take a cost-free alternate route to certification that combines intensive, school-based preparation with online learning.
Now in its first year, the N.C. STEM Teacher Education Program (NC STEP) is providing hands-on training at four innovative high schools across North Carolina to an initial round of candidates who are being prepared for teaching jobs beginning in the fall of 2013. The addition of four more participating schools next year will open slots to 40 teachers-in-training.
The non-traditional teacher education program is administered by North Carolina New Schools and funded by the federal Transitions to Teaching grant program, which supports efforts to recruit and retain highly qualified mid-career professionals and recent college graduates interested in earning a teaching license through an alternative route. NCNS is one of 30 organizations nationwide awarded five-year grants from the U.S. Department of Education to train non-education graduates to teach in high-needs schools.
More than half the teaching vacancies in North Carolina high schools are in math and science classrooms, according to data from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
The NC STEP program focuses on training teachers in innovative and effective instruction of subjects now considered critical for strong high school preparation – science, technology, engineering and math – STEM in shorthand. Candidates in the 15-month program receive a year of school-based training at an innovative school supported by NCNS, combined with seminars and online coursework through WIDE World, a professional development program of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“The training that you get is top notch,” said Greg Stolze, an industrial engineer who joined the program after 25 years in manufacturing and distribution fields. “It’s a great opportunity to work alongside a master teacher for an extended period and to receive high-caliber professional development. That’s the best of both worlds. You learn so much.”
This program has been selected as a partner in 100Kin10, a national initiative to increase the number of STEM teachers by 100,000 during the next 10 years, and has been approved by the North Carolina State Board of Education as an alternative route to teacher licensure.
The teacher training programs are hosted this year at four NCNS-affiliated demonstration high schools: Caldwell Early College in Hudson; Cross Creek Early College in Fayetteville; Hillside New Tech High School in Durham; and the Wayne School of Engineering in Goldsboro. The four additional schools participating next year are Edgecombe Early College High School in Tarboro, Early/Middle College High School at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, Stanly Early College High School in Albemarle and Vance County Early College High School in Henderson.
Candidates are paired with experienced teachers as mentors during the year-long apprenticeships. They spend about 18 hours a week in their school, participating in all dimensions of school life, from classroom instruction to lesson planning. In addition to the 10-month internship, candidates also complete four online courses through WIDE World at Harvard Graduate School of Education and participate in seminars led by North Carolina New Schools. Candidates who complete the internship will then become lateral entry teachers for three years before obtaining a regular teaching license.
The ultimate goal of the program is to prepare 48 teachers a year for STEM-related courses, primarily in NCNS-affiliated schools in districts with the highest rates of under-qualified teachers.
Candidates for the tuition-free program will be drawn from recent college graduates and mid-career professionals in STEM-related fields. Candidates will complete their internship in a host school nearest to where they live. All tuition, training costs and materials are fully paid, valued at approximately $14,000. In addition, candidates receive a $2,500 stipend, $250 materials supplement for classroom supplies, support and guidance for completing licensure requirements and placement assistance following program completion, and mentor support throughout the 10-month internship.
Interested applicants can find additional information and materials online at from North Carolina New Schools. The application deadline is Jan. 15, 2013. Informational webinars describing the NC STEP program, including live question and answer sessions, will be hosted monthly from noon to 1 p.m. on Oct. 26, Nov. 14, Dec. 14 and Jan. 9. Potential applicants can click here to register for a STEP webinar.
North Carolina New Schools is a statewide public-private partnership that accelerates systemic, sustainable innovation in North Carolina secondary schools. Its goal is to ensure every student graduates ready for college, careers and life. NC New Schools partners with school districts, businesses and higher education to link innovation in education to the emerging economy.