While many recent college graduates long to spend the summer recovering from their senior year, not so for the graduate fellows in the UA Transition to Teaching, or TTT, program.
The federally funded Transition to Teaching program, which places TTT fellows in schools along the U.S.-Mexico border, is in its second year and accepting new candidates for the 2013-14 academic year.
Those involved in TTT are preparing themselves for the rigors and rewards of teaching along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Border schools in Arizona have low graduation rates and high poverty rates, as well as a high percentage of English language learners. In many border school districts, principals must recruit teachers from as far away as the Philippines in order to fill crucial teaching positions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM fields.
TTT seeks to address this by recruiting UA graduates in STEM subjects who want to make a difference in the lives of young people living on the border.
TTT fellows have the opportunity to engage in cross-border travel opportunities as well as field-based coursework along the border. Preparing to become STEM teachers, the fellows spend their summer gearing up to start full-time teaching jobs as they begin their online coursework for the Master of Education in secondary education.
Also, the program is unique. It provides fellows with a robust mentor network that meets monthly. The network includes experienced classroom teachers and content experts from Cochise College. This mentor team works closely throughout the year with fellows in the development of their teaching plans and their understandings of teaching and learning. And the network sponsors bi-annual panel discussions on cultural, environmental and social issues along the border.
TTT students, faculty and staff work hard to link STEM teacher resources at the UA to the needs of teachers in local partner communities. This kind of partner-based outreach provides rural communities in Southern Arizona access to University resources.
And we already have success stories.
In the first year of the program, TTT fellows were placed at high schools in Bisbee, Douglas and Rio Rico, and also in Coronado Elementary in Palominas.
Devin Berge, a former scientist and TTT fellow at Coronado Elementary, was named one of four new teachers of the year for Cochise County.
Principal Marylotti Copeland said: "Devin is a tech-savvy STEM professional who enthusiastically shares her scientific knowledge with her seventh and eighth-grade students."
Also, fellows provide the schools they teach in with new approaches to teaching STEM subjects. For example, math fellows, along with seven other math teachers from five partner schools, are being trained and will be using the innovative, story-based math program Ko's Journey in their classrooms. This summer, five science fellows will be taking a two-week field-based animal behavior class at the Southwest Research Station, which will prepare them to do field work with their students.
And we are looking for new fellows.
So, who would make a good TTT fellow?
We are looking for committed, potential STEM teachers who understand the importance and rewards of teaching in low-income schools along the border. A passion for math and science and a commitment to social justice provides the perfect foundation for a TTT fellow. Fellows receive $5,000 in funding to support their graduate studies and courses are offered online with monthly learning community meetings at the UA South campus in Sierra Vista.
Etta Kralovec is an associate professor of teacher education and the director of secondary education programs at UA South. Kralovec holds a doctorate in philosophy from the Teachers College at Columbia University. In 1996, she earned a Fulbright Fellowship to establish a teacher education program at Africa University in Zimbabwe. Kralovec recently gained a $2.2 million Department of Education grant for TTT, preparing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers for Title I schools in Arizona's Cochise and Santa Cruz counties.
Contact Lillian Hritz, a UA South project director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.