A new STEM Teacher Preparation Initiative in the University of South Florida’s (USF) College of Education was endorsed by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) for consideration by the House Appropriations Committee in appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year.
The requested funding of $1 million would be used to prepare teachers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and to create a pipeline of STEM teachers within Hillsborough County Public Schools and other Tampa Bay region school districts.
“As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to invest in good-paying jobs and our local educators. USF’s proposal will enhance STEM teacher preparation and strengthen the pipeline of well-qualified educators in Hillsborough County Public Schools,” Rep. Castor said. “The local community stood up for a stronger USF College of Education last year, and I am proud to follow on the call for action.”
“The University of South Florida is committed to teacher preparation and the certification of educators who serve in schools across the Tampa Bay region,” said USF President Steven C. Currall. “Through the STEM Teacher Preparation Initiative, we can address the vital workforce needs in high-demand subject areas, including those in STEM fields. We thank Rep. Kathy Castor for her inclusion of this initiative in the proposed community projects and for her continuous support of USF.”
This year marks the first time that Members of Congress have been able to submit specific community projects for direct funding in over a decade. Rep. Castor is advocating for the STEM Teacher Preparation Initiative along with nine other proposed projects that were selected based upon community support and pressing local needs.
Should the STEM Teacher Preparation Initiative be selected, it will focus on four-year teacher preparation programs that emphasize interdisciplinary content aligned with K-12 teaching standards and research-based instructional and assessment strategies. The initiative will include the creation of STEM classrooms that allow both aspiring and practicing teachers to experiment with versatile curriculum, innovative teaching strategies, enhanced technology, authentic assessments and collaborative learning.
The initiative will also support a model of teacher preparation that allows students to get hands-on teaching experience throughout all four years at USF. Field placements during students’ freshman through junior years will provide opportunities for building professional knowledge and experience before completing a final, year-long internship during the senior year. Students will also be supported after graduation through enhanced mentor training and professional development during their first two years of full-time teaching.
“In our ongoing conversations and collaborative envisioning with our regional superintendents and district partners, we have strengthened our focus on a narrower selection of more robust and rigorous undergraduate programs, as well as post-baccalaureate and graduate pathways to teacher certification,” said Judith Ponticell, PhD, professor and interim dean of the College of Education. “We are so grateful to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor for her support of this initiative and for her continued support of the USF College of Education.”
About the USF College of Education:
Home to more than 2,200 students and 130 faculty members, the University of South Florida College of Education values high-quality education and excellence in research, teaching and learning. The College of Education is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and its educator preparation programs are fully approved by the Florida Department of Education.