Marietta, Ga. (July 14, 2011) – The governor’s Office of Planning and Budget announced this week that it will award Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) approximately $1.4 million in Race to the Top funding. This grant will help the university launch its new teacher preparation program, which will offer degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics with an education track leading to certification.
SPSU is one of three Georgia universities receiving these funds as the result of a highly competitive process. The Race to the Top Fund is a $4.35 billion U.S. Department of Education program designed to encourage educational innovation and reform.
The funds will allow SPSU to replicate UTeach, a successful national model teacher preparation program. SPSU’s plan to establish such a program was approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents in June, and the university will begin offering courses towards its new teacher preparation program in Spring 2012.
The UTeach program enables future secondary teachers (grades 6-12) to become highly qualified in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). A successful UTeach pilot program at the University of Texas at Austin has been replicated on 22 campuses nationwide to date.
SPSU, the University of West Georgia and Columbus State University will be the first universities to implement UTeach in Georgia, and SPSU is the first polytechnic university in the U.S. to do so.
Since 2001, more than 550 students have graduated from the UTeach program. More than 80 percent of UTeach graduates are still teaching five years after graduating and almost half of them teach in high-need schools.
“The UTeach program is a natural fit for SPSU as a polytechnic,” said Dr. George Stickel, who will direct SPSU’s teacher education program, SPSUTeach. “UTeach focuses on mathematics and science, and since over 77 percent of our students are in STEM fields, this program will serve our students and community well.”
Stickel added, “We will start offering the introductory education classes for SPSUTeach in the spring of 2012 and will follow with the other courses. We will work closely with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to obtain program approval and accreditation by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.”
The UTeach Grant will fund the hiring of master teachers with recent public school experience and current certifications to provide intense mentoring for the teacher candidates. The money also will go towards the purchase laboratory and computer equipment and supplies, as well as the training of SPSU personnel conducting the program.
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