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John Stewart, University of Arkansas
This edition of the Teacher Preparation Section features articles about two of the most important initiatives to improve the quality and quantity of STEM teachers: PhysTEC and UTeach. Jon Anderson, former Teacher-In-Residence at the University of Minnesota’s PhysTEC site, will provide an overview of the role and contributions of TIRs across the PhysTEC project. These master teachers provide support and a practical knowledge of teaching that is vital to the development of a physics teacher preparation program and to the support of teachers post-graduation.
Mary Harris, Jennifer McDonald, John Quintanilla, and Cindy Woods of the University of North Texas will discuss their UTeach replication site. I had the pleasure of attending a presentation on Teach North Texas (TNT) at the annual UTeach meeting and was particularly impressed by the thoughtfulness, energy, and passion that has gone into the program. TNT’s recruiting program is particularly innovative and effective. With a projected graduation rate of 50 highly qualified STEM teachers per year, TNT will dramatically impact the education of thousands of students in northern Texas.
Our final article discusses a long-standing professional development initiative for physics teachers, QuarkNet. The program, now fifteen years old and a recent recipient of continued funding, was featured in the July 2000 edition of the APS Forum on Education newsletter. The program allows in-service teachers to participate in particle physics research as part of the professional development required for continued licensure. The program also focuses on developing an active community of physics teachers. Recruiting and preparing highly qualified teachers is only part of the solution for the shortage of science teachers; it is also critical to retain working teachers. Active professional networks that provide a sense of community and support are an important part of keeping enthusiastic teachers in the classroom.