By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–How hot are STEM fields?
In last year’s “Hoosier Hot 50” job rankings, 12 of the top 25 jobs involved STEM. Coming in at number two was education.
That was good news for IU Southeast, which received a grant of $240,000 from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE) to enhance recruitment, preparation and education of STEM teachers in Indiana school corporations.
The result was the Growing Tomorrow’s STEM Teachers (GTST) program, which celebrated its first anniversary with a reception at the Graduate Center last week.
The event–part celebration and part orientation–brought together 20 current and new grant recipients with IU Southeast leaders and faculty members involved in the GTST program.
The program recruits post-baccalaureate candidates into an initial teaching license in secondary education STEM areas through a three-semester Advance to Teaching (A2T) licensure pathway.
It also updates current and develops future dual-credit STEM high school teachers to meet Indiana’s requirement that they earn 18 credit hours of graduate-level courses in STEM content areas.
Candidates earn 12 credits for free in a STEM area, and may access funds for travel, conferences, release, materials and dependent care.
Crucially, they can obtain their master’s or initial teaching license while still working.
Supporting IU Southeast in the GTST program are West Clark Community Schools, Greater Clark County Schools, Lanesville Community School Corporation, New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation and South Harrison Community School Corporation.
Partners in the business community include SAMTEC, Maker 13, Floyd County Soil & Water Conservation, Amatrol and Johnson & Johnson.
While the program helps educators gain specialized subject matter knowledge, it also helps those with advanced expertise in their STEM fields acquire pedagogical skills needed to teach at the middle and high school level.
Tasman Wrock is currently teaching geometry at New Albany High School. She graduated with honors with a dual major in physics and astronomy, and a minor in mathematics from IU Bloomington.
But as she told the GTST gathering, that didn’t keep her from being stumped by a 7th grade math problem.
“The GTST program has been a huge help,” Wrock said. “Not only has it helped financially but it has also helped in professional development and in connecting me to other people in my field.”
Wrock, whose passion for learning was ignited by her father, and who has followed that impetus to great heights, sees teaching as a way to inspire others.
“Teachers have to help students get the drive to learn about STEM,” Wrock said. “We need to show them that it’s interesting and fun and achievable.”
Homepage photo: Tasman Wrock, a candidate in the Advance To Teaching program, with Dr. Alan Zollman, GTST project director.