June 11, 2009
Purdue rural education program to welcome Woodrow Wilson FellowsWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A new program starting at Purdue University next week eventually will send specially trained math and science teachers into rural schools in Indiana.
Eighteen Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows will arrive on Purdue's campus Monday (June 15). The 18 are among the first-ever in the program, which is intended to help overhaul teacher education and encourage exceptionally able candidates to seek long-term careers teaching science, technology, engineering and math (the STEM fields) in high-need classrooms.
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., chose Indiana for its first fellows program for high school teachers. Fellows also will attend Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the University of Indianapolis and Ball State University. Those attending Purdue will be placed in rural school districts.
The Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows will participate in the inaugural year of the STEM Goes Rural program at Purdue.
STEM Goes Rural is a pioneering program to staff rural secondary schools with STEM teachers who are trained in both education and the STEM disciplines. It is a collaborative, cross-disciplinary effort by the colleges of Education, Science, Engineering, Agriculture and Technology.
The Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows program provides stipends of $30,000 to the students during their one-year master's program. In addition, Purdue will provide the fellows with graduate tuition scholarships. The fellows agree to teach in an Indiana school for three years.
"With the STEM Goes Rural program, Purdue's College of Education is stepping up its efforts to ease the shortage of secondary math and science teachers, especially in rural schools, and to help grow a generation of students for careers in these all-important fields," said Kevin Kelly, the college's interim dean.
Earlier this year, the College of Education sent a questionnaire to secondary school superintendents to assess their needs for STEM teachers. Most of the superintendents were in Indiana or other Midwestern states, and many were in rural school districts.
Of more than 100 superintendents who answered the questionnaire, 41percent said they had an urgent or extremely urgent need for math and science teachers. Another 35 percent said they had a moderate need.
Among those who responded, the need was greatest in rural and urban schools. Forty-four percent of superintendents from rural schools who answered the questionnaire said their need was urgent, as did 40 percent of urban superintendents. Thirty-one percent of superintendents from suburban districts cited an urgent need.
Nearly all of the superintendents said colleges should work more closely with schools to ensure that secondary math and science teachers are preparing their students for college studies and careers in STEM areas. And they said that educating and inspiring students to pursue STEM careers should be a priority of American education.
"It is clear from the responses to our questionnaire that those of us educating future teachers need to attract students who have ability in science and math," Kelly said. "But beyond that, we must train them to teach in a way that generates excitement and enthusiasm in the next generation of scientists and engineers.
"That's exactly what we hope to accomplish with our STEM Goes Rural program."
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Lilly Endowment Inc. are providing funding for the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows.
The Robert Noyce Scholars program is another rural STEM teacher initiative at Purdue. The College of Science will be home to 35 Noyce Scholars over the next four years. The scholars, who will work as assistants in three rural school districts, will earn teaching certificates in science and mathematics.
Purdue's Noyce program, one of four in Indiana, focuses on rural high school STEM education and teacher training.
The National Science Foundation is supporting the Robert Noyce Scholars, named for the co-founder of Intel.
A reception for Purdue's Woodrow Wilson Fellows will be from 4:30-6:15 p.m. Monday (June 15) in the Prusiecki Banquet Room of Dauch Alumni Center.
Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Kevin Kelly, 765 494-9739, email@example.com
Sidney Moon, College of Education associate dean of learning and engagement, 765 494-0019, Sidney@purdue.edu
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org
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