Ten years ago, two Texas A&M University colleges joined forces to improve mathematics and science teacher production in Texas. A decade later, they are teaming with one of the state’s biggest names in technological innovation to strengthen their collective commitment to the future of mathematics and science education, one teacher, classroom and school district at a time.
A $150,000 challenge grant from the Dallas-based Texas Instruments (TI) Foundation is being matched by Texas A&M’s College of Science and College of Education and Human Development to create a $300,000 fund in support of the aggieTEACH Program. This nationally peer-reviewed teacher recruitment model, founded by the two colleges in 2001, has helped Texas A&M University lead the state in mathematics and science teacher production for the past six years, according to the Texas State Board for Educator Certification.
The grant, awarded through the Texas A&M Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE) and payable over a three-year period beginning in September, will help offset various costs associated with expanding the program’s push to increase production of certified middle and high school teachers — positions that have been in high demand statewide and nationally for the past several years.
“Thanks to the generous support of the Texas Instruments Foundation, we are able to hire a program manager whose primary responsibility is to prepare mathematics and science teachers,” said Dr. Timothy P. Scott, associate dean for undergraduate programs in the College of Science and director of aggieTEACH. “Her focus is the students, from the quality of their education to their retention in K-12 classrooms. With this investment, we can reach more students, teach more students and partner more with local school districts.”
The TI Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization funded by Texas Instruments Incorporated (NYSE: TXN), one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies and a mainstay in Lone Star business circles that specializes in innovative technology. As longtime advocates of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, the TI Foundation’s primary objective is to assist endeavors that better prepare high school graduates in those fields.
“We have always had a focus on education, and we have admired the perseverance and success of this program with relatively little resource support,” said M. Samuel Self, TI Foundation chairman. “Texas A&M is turning out teachers, and we’re very interested in helping this program grow. The TI Foundation’s primary focus is to produce qualified STEM teachers who can help students succeed in entering STEM-related fields.”
Through aggieTEACH, undergraduate mathematics and science majors can earn their certification with no additional credit hours to their degree plan while being mentored by many of the area’s best educators and participating in state and national STEM teacher organizations. In the past year alone, 118 Texas A&M students completed their teaching certification through the program and, in many cases, are now beginning their teaching careers in classrooms across the state and nation.
In addition to a top-notch seminar series for its current participants, Scott said aggieTEACH is collaborating to launch the Aggie Teacher Network, a new resource intended to benefit the program’s most recent graduates. The campus-wide effort is designed to connect new Aggie teachers with experienced Texas A&M-taught educators already in the field. By helping to smooth new teachers’ transitions to classroom leaders, administrators hope to improve fledgling educators’ overall odds for success during their initial years in the profession, typically known as a pivotal period when new teachers are at greater risk for burning out or second-guessing their initial career decisions.
Scott noted that, on the basis of aggieTEACH’s proven performance, the program had been considered by the TI Foundation for several years before ultimately becoming its most recent investment. Both the foundation and its parent organization boast strong traditions of financial support for dynamic educational programs, donating more than $150 million to various initiatives — 80 percent of them pertaining to higher education — in the last five years alone.
“We know the need for teachers is out there, and we think we have a solid reputation in the content fields of STEM as well as a good collaboration with the College of Education and Human Development to train students in the most appropriate manner,” Scott added. “This grant forges another strong link between industry and education, and we are grateful to the TI Foundation for their willingness to help prepare future STEM teachers.”
The aggieTEACH Program joins several other teaching initiatives supported by the TI Foundation that, while different, are consistent in their overall objective of training STEM teachers. The TI Foundation also supports UTeach at the University of North Texas, University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Texas at Arlington, Teach for America, and the Texas Teaching Fellows.
For more information on TI’s and the TI Foundation’s support of education, visit http://www.ti.com/corp/docs/csr/community/education/. To learn more about aggieTEACH or the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, visit http://aggieteach.tamu.edu/.