The VolsTeach program prepares STEM majors to make a difference in transforming the lives of Tennessee children.”
– Susan E. Riechert, distinguished service professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
VolsTeach emphasizes early and on-going field-based experiences while students are working to earn a bachelor degree in math or science. Since 2009, VolsTeach targets undergraduate math, science, and engineering majors who are interested in expanding their professional skills and exploring a career in secondary teaching. VolsTeach relies upon experienced elementary, middle, and high school teachers to mentor University of Tennessee students during their field-based experiences. Mentor teachers open their classrooms and offer guidance and support as students begin to learn about K-12 instructional practices and the roles and responsibilities of educators.
VolsTeach was awarded a substantial grant from the National Science Foundation to host the Noyce Seminar series. The series brings in guest speakers to provide insight on challenging topics in STEM education, such as global warming and evolution. 2015 topic was “Advice from the Field: Teaching Effectively in Schools Serving Economically Distressed Communities.
Community partners include the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Anderson County Schools, Knox County Schools, Roane County Schools, Lenior City Schools, Maryville City Schools, and Oak Ridge Schools. University of Tennessee, Knoxville partners include the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Center for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Sciences.
Impact on UT
With careful planning, the VolsTeach minor can be completed within the credit hour requirements of most relevant majors. UT students in the VolsTeach program can therefore graduate in four years with a degree in math, science, or engineering while obtaining licensure as highly qualified teachers in their respective STEM disciplines. Hands-on teaching experience is available to participating students from the first semester of the program. Exclusive internship and scholarship opportunities are offered for summer, fall, and spring terms. Academic coaches keep students on track. Student learning and teaching are supported by a large instructional materials library that includes scientific and technical equipment, manipulative objects for modeling math and science concepts, and an assortment of print and electronic resources.
Impact on Community
The Tennessee Department of Education endorses the VolsTeach program to prepare highly qualified teachers to meet state and federal guidelines. School based mentor teachers receive both stipends and the satisfaction of preparing future teachers. Through this nationally recognized program, VolsTeach is one way to give back to the education profession while promoting the importance of science and math in the classroom.
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