AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just one year of training and then straight into your child’s classroom. The University of Texas at Austin is launching a fast track program called UTeach Accelerate that will “prepare candidates for secondary STEM teaching in as little as one year,” according to its website.
“Universities across the country have been experimenting with new and faster ways to get people into teaching,” said Michael Marder, Director of UTeach.
They’re accepting applications now, and the first cohort will begin its classes in the fall.
Program Coordinator Ariel J. Taylor told KXAN only people who have a STEM degree already or those who are close to obtaining one will be eligible to apply.
“They’re maybe career changers,” she said. “We’re here for veterans. For moms who have STEM degrees and want to join teaching for the first time.”
Taylor said they took the UTeach model, which prepares students through a four-year program to become STEM teachers, and re-designed it to fit those who already have a STEM background and just need that additional step to become educators.
“All the participants in UTeach’s Accelerate program will have actual class time for nine months. That’s two semesters,” said Taylor. “From their first semester in fall 2019, they would immediately be in elementary school classrooms, middle school classrooms and high school classrooms. Being able to become comfortable in the environment, but also know how to interact [with] all those people that are there as well.”
Ken Zarifis, President of Education Austin, told us there’s no denying it. The demand for STEM teachers is skyrocketing.
“It’s really the movement of the day,” he said.
Zarifis explained, however, a challenge many districts face is pay. “A person has an engineering, science or math background, there’s no limit of jobs out there that pay much higher than what teachers’ wages are. That’s why we need to have a significant increase in pay,” he said.
Zarifis said programs like UT’s could help meet the rising demand, but he also emphasizes the importance of classroom experience.
“It’s not just about knowing your content. Teaching is an art,” he said.
When asked about recruiting potential teacher candidates, Marder said there are benefits to teaching.
“One way to explain an attraction is to say in three words, June, July August,” he said. “You can choose whether you want to work in the summer and earn more money or whether you want to spend time with your kids.”
He also directed people to this website.
UTeach Accelerate is accepting 10 students into the inaugural class. The applications are due May 1st.
The school is also offering $20,000 scholarships through a grant to those who are admitted this year.