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Alma Robinson, Virginia Tech
Increasing the diversity of the physics teacher workforce has proven to be an enduring challenge. This edition of the Teacher Preparation Section features two articles from PhysTEC institutions, Georgia State University (GSU) and Chicago State University (CSU), that have had success in recruiting physics teachers from underrepresented minority groups and includes a profile of one of CSU’s alumni.
Brian Thoms of Georgia State University explains how GSU’s efforts to increase the flexibility and efficiency of the physics degree program requirements, introduce a freshman seminar course, and support the Society of Physics Students were instrumental in growing GSU’s physics program, especially among underrepresented minorities. Through a synergy of this growth and a new physics teaching certification program, active recruitment from the Teacher in Residence, and a Learning Assistant Program, GSU has been successful in recruiting preservice teachers from diverse backgrounds.
Mel Sabella and Andrea Gay Van Duzor of Chicago State University (CSU) describe the importance of community partnerships in CSU’s preservice teacher program. By establishing collaborations between local teachers, two-year college faculty, and educators at Chicago Science museums, CSU’s preservice teachers are given opportunities to build relationships with local institutions and participate in early teaching experiences throughout the surrounding communities. CSU faculty also recognize that because many CSU preservice teachers come from communities similar to the ones they will eventually serve, they can provide significant insight into understanding the culture of the secondary students.
Finally, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Angela Newton, a Chicago native and second-career teacher who earned her science teaching certification from Chicago State University. After teaching five years in Chicago Public Schools, she now serves as the Assistant Principal STEM Coordinator at Lake View High School. During our conversation, she shared her teaching experiences with me and offered us some advice for our physics teacher programs.