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New U of M Program Aims to Produce More and Better Math and Science Teachers University News
For release: September 15, 2010

For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843

The first students – 22 – have been enrolled in the innovative “UTeach MEmphis” program at the University of Memphis. Thus begins an ambitious project to qualify more college graduates who have majored in science and mathematics to teach those subjects in school.

The initiative is a collaboration between the University’s College of Arts and Sciences and College of Education. It is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, using money provided by the “Race to the Top” funds that are being provided by the federal government. Tennessee and Delaware were the first two states awarded those grants following a national competition for the funding; they were named recipients in March 2010. Similar programs are being offered at two University of Tennessee campuses and at TBR’s Middle Tennessee State University for the first time this semester.

Under the auspices of UTeach MEmphis, students can pursue a bachelor of science degree in mathematics or one of the sciences and become licensed as a teacher immediately following graduation with the B.S. degree. Traditionally, a student has had to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching degree beyond the bachelor’s degree. The goal of the accelerated program is to allow competent math and science graduates to enter the teaching profession without an additional year of graduate work, should they choose to do so. UTeach graduates are under no obligation to teach, however; the program leaves that choice up to the individual graduate.

Based on the highly successful UTeach program introduced at the University of Texas a decade ago, the program gives participants a gradual introduction to teaching. As early as their freshman year, they will spend some time in public school classrooms, working under the guidance of experienced local teachers. Ultimately, during their final year in the program, the participants will spend time as an apprentice teacher. Throughout the program, participants will work closely with U of M faculty, including two master teachers who have been hired specifically to work with the UTeach students.

Of specific benefit to students are additional career options without the extra years of college, the availability of paid internships and scholarships, the opportunity to take two tuition-free courses to explore teaching as a possible career, and a dedicated space for studying and socializing with their fellow UTeach students. UTeach participants will also receive top priority for tutoring and instructional jobs on the U of M campus.

UTeach MEmphis seeks freshman and sophomore math and science majors who want to learn more about teaching as a career. A student who enters the program will have two skilled advisors, one from the UTeach program and the other from the student’s major department. Together, they will make sure that all courses necessary for the major’s requirements and for the teacher certification are completed.

School administrators in Memphis and West Tennessee speak highly of the program. Dr. Kriner Cash, superintendent of Memphis City Schools, said of the program, “We need teachers who are well prepared and who are passionate about educating children. The UTeach program will attract excellent students to the teaching profession.”

“This program will have a great impact on the educational outcomes of thousands of children in our region,” said John Aitken, superintendent of Shelby County Schools.

Dr. Tim Fite, director of schools in Tipton County, praised the University of Memphis for “...having the foresight to ... put a permanent, highly recognized teacher preparation program in place that will enhance teacher retention upon employment.”

More information about the UTeach MEmphis program is available online at www.memphis.edu/uteach

Students who are interested in enrolling in the program should consult their academic advisors or contact the UTeach office in Manning Hall, Room 324, 901-678-3017, uteach@memphis.edu

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