8:04 a.m., Aug. 19, 2010----The University of Delaware now offers a new degree option for prospective graduate students within the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree is a fast-tracked, cohort graduate program designed for students who want to pursue a teaching career.
"I decided to apply to the Master of Arts in Teaching program because I had heard many great things about the School of Education (SOE)," said Benjamin Berg, one of the 10 graduate students in the new program. "As a college graduate with a science degree switching to teaching, this program provided exactly what I was looking for."
The MAT program is unique in that it is designed to accommodate students with different career backgrounds. For recent college graduates who have a general subject degree in the areas of math or science, this program offers a graduate degree and teacher certification in just one year. The program is also open to people who've decided to leave their current career and become a teacher.
Reed Smith has worked for AstraZeneca for 22 years as a chemist in drug discovery. Now, he says he wants to promote an interest and passion for pursuing science as a career to students in the classroom.
"I want to be prepared to do the best job I can," he said. "I hope to bring the excitement I have for science to the high school students I work with."
Smith enrolled in the program with another colleague from AstraZeneca, Russ Mauger. Mauger, 55, says instead of retiring after leaving the company this year, he's looking forward to this career change.
"It's a great opportunity for our candidates who come with a strong content background to be immersed for 12 months in education and school settings, preparing for a career in teaching," said Brad Glass, program coordinator and assistant professor in SOE.
The program is a part of Delaware's successful application for Race to the Top funds. This special type of teacher education is considered a residency program because after a summer of coursework, the students are placed in a school within the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District to work with a strong team of teachers. Coursework is designed in a way that is very integrated with the resident's placement.
Race to the Top will support the program with $1.65 million over four years, helping to pay some of the development costs as well as stipends for the residents and school partners.
"This is a great example of the value of UD partnering with the state, addressing one of the state's most urgent needs and bringing strong students to the university," said Nancy Brickhouse, professor in SOE and deputy dean of CEHD.
The first cohort of students began the program in July 2010. Jeffrey Gunther was the first graduate student accepted into the MAT program and says he was immediately drawn to it.
A 2008 Cornell University graduate, Gunther majored in neurobiology and behavior and environmental engineering technology, but he says he also always had an interest in environmental education.
While serving as a science tutor in Portland, Ore., Gunther says he realized how important it was for students to have a strong foundation in basic science concepts before trying to take on larger environmental issues.
“I was seeing that most of the jobs that I wanted in environmental education looked for teaching certification,” Gunther said. “So at the same time I was looking at getting a teaching degree, I was beginning to appreciate the need for a better general science education.”
The program is accepting applications for secondary science and math education tracks, which will begin September 2011. Next year, prospective graduate students interested in teaching English will also have the opportunity to apply for the program.
"Math and science are high-needs areas. We need more math and science teachers in the field," said Glass. "This program is giving the students the training they need to be successful teachers their first year, but also the tools that will allow them to continue to grow as educators throughout their career."
To learn more about the MAT program, information and application deadlines can be found on the program's website.
Article by Cassandra Kramer
Photos by Evan Krape