Stories of Impact: UMBC Diversifying STEM Teacher Workforce

Ed Prep Matters is featuring “Stories of Impact” to showcase AACTE member institutions with educator preparation programs that are making a positive impact in their communities and beyond through innovative practices. We are committed to sharing members’ success stories and encourage you to do the same.

The Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) addresses today’s pressing workforce need for highly qualified math and science teachers who also have a strong understanding of diverse student populations, high-need school environments, and urban communities. Graduates of the program teach in Baltimore and throughout Maryland.

At AACTE’s 2013 Annual Meeting, UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski inspired attendees of the Welcoming Session with stories about the university’s successes, particularly related to preparing students of color for advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. (A recording of his address is available here, starting at 34:30.)

UMBC is equally committed to developing STEM teachers of color for Maryland’s PK-12 classrooms, says Ramon Goings, coordinator of the Sherman program and a doctoral candidate in urban educational leadership at nearby Morgan State University. The Sherman program is a successful manifestation of that commitment.

In a September 17 Education Week article, “How Universities Are Recruiting More Teachers of Color” (which also featured the work of AACTE’s Networked Improvement Community), Goings wrote a profile of the program and its support system for preservice through in-service educators.

Beginning with recruitment, the Sherman program populates the teacher pipeline with diverse applicants from a range of academic stages. “This is important because in Maryland, like other states, many students of color begin their collegiate careers in community colleges,” notes Goings in the article. “As a result we have students who enter as freshmen, transfers, upperclassmen, and master’s-level candidates.”

The program also supports both teacher candidates and alumni with professional development in culturally competent practice and offers applied learning in local urban settings. A partnership with Baltimore’s Lakeland Elementary/Middle School provides teacher candidates real-world opportunities to work with children and experienced teachers prior to student teaching. This partnership also has the benefit of exposing PK-12 students to the possibility of going into teaching and/or pursuing a STEM career.

Goings also works to combat the policy-related obstacles to getting graduates into the schools that need them most. Policies that put off new hires until late summer jeopardize districts’ ability to secure highly qualified educators—particularly new ones with significant student loans to repay, who are likely to seek employment elsewhere simply to ensure an income stream.

Once graduates do join the teaching workforce, UMBC keeps up the support to help them stay. “What makes our program unique is that we follow our teachers once they graduate UMBC and work with them through their first 3 years in the classroom,” said Goings. “Specifically, I serve as a mentor and provide professional development opportunities for our alumni and conduct classroom observations and ensure our students are supported as new teachers.”

If you would like to share your institution’s story about successful innovation in educator preparation, please contact me at Stay tuned for more stories of impact!

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Jerrica Thurman

Director of Marketing & Communications, AACTE