BC-LA—UL-Lafayette Grant, 1st Ld-Writethru,287

La.-Lafayette lands grant to boost math, science

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LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has been awarded a nearly $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to recruit and develop math and science majors into highly-qualified middle and high school teachers.

Peter Sheppard, head of the department of curriculum and instruction, tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1nHGDFf ) the objective is to prepare undergraduate students proficient in math or the sciences for careers as teachers as a way to boost the number of high-quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers in middle and high schools.

The program, called “Strengthening Teacher Education through Mathematics & Science Teaching Scholars in Louisiana,” targets college-level juniors and seniors majoring in math or one of the sciences and who might be interested in acquiring teacher certification while they earn their degree.

“We want to increase the number of math and science teachers who are skillful and relish opportunities to work with students who have hidden or unmet potential in the STEM areas,” Sheppard said.

Students in the program will receive stipends of up to $11,700 each year, up to three years. They’ll also receive support from teacher mentors as they complete their undergraduate degree and certification. Program participants will receive continued support from retirees during their first few years as classroom teachers.

That kind of support during a new teacher’s first years is vital, Sheppard said.

“A common finding in education research is that within the first three years of teaching that a significant number of teachers actually decide not to continue in the profession,” Sheppard said.

“Part of that is because they don’t necessarily get the kind of support that they need during those first two or three years,” he said. “I think our retirees will provide that kind of support mechanism.”

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com