UCCSTeach prepares students to teach in high-demand STEM areas

October 17, 2017

Lily Spencer

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    This semester, the UCCSTeach program grew to 120 students who wish to teach subjects in STEM-related fields.

    The program, which has offered classes since 2010, allows students seeking degrees in STEM fields to learn how to teach at a secondary education level. Students must be STEM majors to participate in the program.

     UCCSTeach is a secondary teacher licensure for students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees. The program is a collaborative effort between the College of Education and the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

    The goal of UCCSTeach is to prepare students for careers teaching in STEM fields in a post secondary setting. These areas typically have a high demand for teachers in comparison to non-STEM fields.

    At the end of four years, students will graduate with a degree in their respective fields as well as a secondary teaching certification. The first group of undergraduate students in the program graduated in 2014.

    Students, like engineering education major Taylor Badeau, have to complete a 32-credit undergraduate track of post-baccalaureate licensure program. The most popular major in the program is mathematics, followed by biology.

    Badeau believes an advantage to the program comes from its master teachers or professors.

    “They really support you in every step along the way,” he said. “Obviously they are teaching our classes, but more than that, I think they just do a really great job preparing you for understanding what it is like to be a teacher day in and day out.”

    Badeau will be the first student in the UCCSTeach program to graduate with a B.S. in Engineering Education.

    “Ideally, I hope to teach math and engineering to middle and high school students,” he said.

    “The special thing about my degree is that it sets me up specifically to teach engineering to middle and high schoolers.”     

    Vickie Newkirk, program coordinator for UCCSTeach, believes the program gives students an economic and time advantage over those who may choose to pursue a more traditional path to teach STEM courses.

   “The advantage is that with other programs, people can get their math or science degree then come back for a fifth year to pursue the teacher licensure,” said Newkirk.

     “Our program is a four-year degree program provided there are no hiccups in your plan.”

    The program was created under the national university-based teacher preparation program UTeach, which was started at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997. It has since grown to include 45 universities in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

    According to Newkirk, the program allows students to experience the day-to-day activities of working as a teacher through specialized classes.  Students in the program can gain experience as early as their freshman year.

    “The introductory classes are designed to give you an idea of what teaching is like so that early on in your degree, you find out if it is really not right for you,” she said.

    “You haven’t gone four or five years in school anticipating being a teacher to get to the end and determine that its really not what you were thinking it was.”

    For more information on UCCSTeach, visit uccs.edu/~uccsteach/.