Putting more math and science teachers in the classrooms of low-income schools is the focus of a $1.3 million grant Union Graduate College has received.
The money is part of federal Race to the Top funding to improve schools.
A total of 25 students will receive a $40,000 scholarship on the condition that they agree to teach math or science in the Albany, Schenectady or Amsterdam school districts for four years.
College officials are excited about receiving the money, saying it is validation for the intensive teacher-preparation program it has been offering for two decades.
Union Graduate College has a yearlong internship for students seeking a master’s degree in teaching — traditional student-teaching programs last only 10 weeks.
“So you don’t just have a brief period in which you learn the school, you begin to get confident and then you leave,” said Patrick Allen, dean of the School of Education. “You really have to work your way through a period where things go right, things go wonderful and then things don’t go right.”
The students will also receive an iPad 2.
College officials decided to focus the grant on the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — because those are the hardest for urban school districts to recruit people to teach.
As part of the program, the students will work with an experienced supervising teacher who will do in-class observations.
“They also have to videotape their class every two weeks and watch that often with the supervisor to look for ways they could improve,” Allen said.
Union Graduate College trains the mentors, who take courses at no cost to update their skills in assessment and mentoring.
The college also runs a monthly Urban Roundtable, where it invites highly skilled local educators to come in and share the best teaching practices with the students and mentors, according to Allen.
It has also hired a STEM recruiting specialist to help recruit potential candidates for the program.
Allen recently spoke before the Board of Regents about the experience.
“We’ve been doing this for 20 years, and what the Regents are looking for is trying to promote a yearlong internship as a much more common feature of teacher preparation,” he said.