UM Sends Its Best and Brightest Math Stars to High-Needs Schools

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Everyone’s got a theory about how to close the education gap, and they range from the lofty to the simple. Starting this year, some members of the University of Maryland College of Education will try to change one small thing:  putting well-trained, quality math teachers in high-needs schools.

“We’ve known for years that there are not enough well-trained, quality mathematics teachers to meet the staffing needs of schools,” says UM assistant professor Lawrence Clark. The reasons are many — one big one being that those of a mathematic or scientific bent have the potential to earn way more in the private sector. In an attempt to fill the gap, some schools are recruiting teachers from the Philippines, while some teaching programs offer alternative pathways to certification. This is working to a certain extent, but the lack is still there — and high-needs schools are the hardest hit.

Enter the National Science Foundation, which is teaming up with the university to fund 42 $14,000 scholarships to juniors and seniors interested in teaching math in high-needs middle or high schools. The chosen Noyce Scholars (named after Robert Noyce, who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel) will have to commit to two years of service for every one year of scholarship support. The program will also provide support for its students during those tough early years of teaching.

Clark says he hopes that the project will “dispel myths about high needs schools and show students that high needs schools can also be good schools with great teachers, supportive parents, and amazing kids.” The first group of Noyce Scholars will be chosen this spring.

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