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UNT Insider | March 2008 Issue | Teach North Texas

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UNT receives $2.4 million grant to expand teacher certification program

From a UNT News Service press release

UNT recently announced the launch of a $2.4 million grant-funded program that will increase the number of undergraduate math, science and computer science majors obtaining teaching certification and will enhance UNT's efforts to address a national shortage of teachers qualified to teach those subjects.

Teach North Texas, a collaborative effort between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education, builds on UNT's already strong support of secondary education in the North Texas region through a partnership with the Fort Worth Independent School District.

Gretchen M. Bataille

One of the features of Teach North Texas, which is modeled after the innovative UTeach program at The University of Texas at Austin, is the opportunity for students to explore the teaching profession in two free one-hour courses that can be taken as early as their freshman year. Once in the program, students will take courses in the professional development sequence that emphasize field experiences, teaching strategies and concepts related specifically to the subjects the students will teach.

"Our nation faces a shortage of talented math and science teachers who are dedicated to preparing our young students for educational success and preparing educators to do this is a critical need. During the 2006-07 academic year, about 1200 students completed our certification programs for teachers, counselors or other leadership roles in schools. But this powerful new partnership will allow us to do more than ever before to supply our schools with highly qualified math and science teachers," President Gretchen M. Bataille says. "I appreciate the support of our generous donors and am proud of what this new partnership will do to positively impact our schools, and particularly those in the Fort Worth ISD."

UNT is one of 13 universities nationwide selected to receive a UTeach replication grant by the UTeach Institute and the National Math and Science Initiative. The Greater Texas Foundation contributed $1.4 million to the four-year grant, and an additional amount of up to $1 million will come from NMSI if UNT meets certain fund-raising goals. Sponsors include ExxonMobil and the Texas High School Project.

"I have been impressed by the tremendous results the UTeach program has had in Texas, and I look forward to the great outcomes that will result from expanding this program," says Tom Luce, president and CEO of NMSI.

Teach North Texas will be directed by Dr. John Quintanilla of the Department of Mathematics, which is in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Mary Harris, Meadows Chair for Excellence in Education in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration, part of the College of Education.

"With TNT, future math and science teachers will be prepared for their profession with course work that is guided by current research and is specifically tailored for their field of interest," Quintanilla says. "We think that our students will appreciate the connections between what they learn in TNT and the multiple field experiences that they'll have practicing their teaching skills in public schools."

Teach North Texas will provide students with opportunities for financial assistance through scholarships and opportunities for internships with organizations that offer formal and informal programs in mathematics, science and computer science education. Another key aspect of the program will be candidates' interactions with master teachers, who are experienced high school teachers hired by UNT to teach courses, supervise field work and offer mentorship and real-world advice to the future teachers.

As a result of Teach North Texas, UNT expects to graduate 60 students a year with bachelor's degrees in math, science or computer science with teacher certification. The program employs compact degree plans that encourage students to earn their degrees in four years. UNT has an advantage over some universities adopting the UTeach model in other states in that Texas already requires that secondary teacher candidates earn degrees in their content fields rather than in education.

"UNT's involvement with Teach North Texas is essential to increasing the supply of mathematics, science and computer science teachers for North Texas because of the focus of this program on teacher education at the undergraduate level," Harris says. "Alternative certification options have not been especially productive in these fields because of the need for candidates to acquire strong, balanced content majors simultaneous with solid backgrounds in human relations and teaching skills."

The National Math and Science Initiative is a non-profit organization created to help the United States maintain its global leadership position in technological innovation through the support of math and science education. ExxonMobil contributed an initial $125 million to the National Math and Science Initiative efforts. Additional donors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

Headquartered in Bryan, the Greater Texas Foundation serves the citizens and educational institutions of Texas by supporting initiatives that increase access to higher education, support teachers, and encourage parental and community involvement in education. The foundation also continues to support the financing of education by participating in government sponsored student loan programs.

The UTeach Institute was created to provide direction and leadership to expand and replicate the UTeach mathematics, science, and computer science teacher preparation program at universities across the nation. UTeach is a highly innovative and successful teacher preparation program, which has substantially increased the number of mathematics and science majors being certified at The University of Texas at Austin.

Other universities that have received UTeach replication grants include the University of Florida, Florida State University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Western Kentucky University, Temple University, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Houston, Louisiana State University, the University of Kansas, the University of California at Irvine, the University of California at Berkeley and Northern Arizona University.

UNT News Service Press Release
Mark Wright can be reached at mwright@unt.edu.

Read other stories in this issue:

March 2008

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The UNT Insider, a monthly e-newsletter, connects UNT alumni and others to the university by letting you hear directly from President Gretchen M. Bataille.

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