Pilot program brings STEM educators to Alabama

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 2:47 PM CDT
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By Kellie Miller | August 4, 2020 at 8:19 AM CDT - Updated August 4 at 8:19 AM

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - In the Rocket City, science, tech, engineering and math (STEM), are top priorities within our growing workforce.

In Alabama’s public schools, that’s also true. Four different groups are coming together to boost training for teachers focusing on this critical field.

The partnership includes the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE), the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), the Alabama-Korea Education and Economic Partnership (A-KEEP) and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea.

Executive Director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education Dr. Jim Purcell says the state recognized the extreme shortage of teachers in Alabama with expertise in STEM.

Meanwhile, South Korea has more STEM teachers, or interested STEM teachers, than jobs available.

After five years of planning and negotiation, Purcell says Alabama has the funds to get started.

Recent South Korean teacher education graduates in math and science will be selected to begin a two-year master’s program at an Alabama University.

The first year will be taught in South Korea and the second year will be a residential experience in the state.

Grad students will have the opportunity to live with an American host family and take part in a mentor-mentee program. 

South Korean students who apply to the program must be fluent enough in English to teach American students.

In addition, educational leaders will ensure their education degree is comparable to an American K-12 teaching license. 

At the end of the program, graduates will receive a master’s degree in a STEM field and have an opportunity to teach in Alabama schools.

Purcell says STEM is only getting more important and Alabama’s youth should be skilled and prepared through proper education.

“There are funds to help support your ability to get a credential in that and to actually teach in your schools,” Purcell said. “But secondly, we are trying to address this and we are willing to think outside the box to address this particular issue because we know that the future in Alabama is all about STEM fields. It’s about math and science being a fundamental part of our new workplace so we have to make sure our young people are skilled and credentialed very well with that.”

The first South Korean students selected to participate in the master’s program will begin this fall.

Copyright 2020 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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