COLLABORATION

The TRUE Project: Wayne State’s push for STEM teachers in 2020

SOURCE: Campaign Creators/Unsplash
There is a growing demand for STEM professionals and educators in the US.

There has been an increasing demand for more Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals to support economic growth in the US. To meet these demands, STEM teachers are needed to nurture the future generation of industry leaders. 

Wayne State University has recently announced a new initiative to generate more STEM educators through the Metro Detroit Teaching Residency for Urban Excellence (TRUE) Project. 

The US$2.5 million government-funded initiative is an innovative multi-sector partnership that aims to positively impact student learning, address the shortage of STEM teachers and support the region’s workforce development. 

The project will target recent graduates and mid-career professionals with STEM expertise within the metro Detroit region. It will serve to generate jobs for current professionals especially in the automotive and technology industries who may be impacted by recent plant closures. 

It is expected that around 36 diverse and highly qualified professionals will undergo the project which will train and prepare them as K-12 STEM teachers over an 18-month period. 

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By the end of the project, participants will gain a Master’s degree and receive their teaching certification. They will also go through a two-year induction period of mentoring and professional development. 

“Having highly qualified science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educators in the classroom is vital to the development of our nation’s and region’s workforce,” said Wayne State University provost and senior vice president of academic affairs Professor Keith Whitfield.  

“Through our investment in the Metro Detroit TRUE Project, coupled with other efforts at the university, it is our aim to provide students in Detroit Public Schools Community District and Dearborn Public Schools with the STEM educators and experiences that spark learners’ curiosity to explore STEM-related concepts that they can apply in the classroom, community and the world of work so they can thrive in the new knowledge economy.” 

“The Metro Detroit TRUE Project’s curriculum will integrate two research-based innovations — culturally responsive STEM education and trauma-informed, socio-emotional learning — that are crucial in students’ academic and personal development in urban schools and communities,” said Wayne State University Assistant Dean and Professor in the Division of Teacher Education Roland Sintos Coloma who is also the principal investigator for the TRUE project. 

“The project will also allow us to develop a new curriculum that will ascertain teaching competency of the state’s new K-12 computer science standards.”

STEM Teachers
The project also includes a year-long residency at selected public schools. Source: neonbrand/Unsplash.

Adding to an extensive STEM and education-oriented curriculum, the project will also offer year-long residencies in Detroit Public Schools Community District and Dearborn Public Schools, Michigan’s largest urban school districts. 

The TRUE project is expected to produce two cohorts. The participants will be immersed in urban ecologies, work closely with school-based mentor teachers and university coaches, and employ high-leverage practices for student engagement and achievement. 

Each TRUE resident will receive a US$40,000 living stipend during the first 12 months of the programme. 

“Detroit Public Schools Community District, like most large, urban school districts, has a need for more teachers in STEM subjects. The TRUE project has the potential to help us fill openings in science and math classrooms with a diverse pool of teachers who are invested in improving outcomes for the students of Detroit,” said Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) Superintendent Dr Nikolai Vitti. 

“As with many school districts around the State of Michigan, we struggle to fill STEM-focused positions such as science, math and computer sciences. With the need for high-quality STEM teachers across the State of Michigan, we believe that this is a one of a kind opportunity to assist in the development of teachers who have industry experience to be our future leaders,” added Dearborn Schools Superintendent Glenn Maleyko. 

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The project will be thoroughly monitored in terms of its processes and impact with the project team collaborating with an advisory board of stakeholders from various education, corporate, philanthropic and professional sectors. The stakeholders will oversee the project’s progress, results and effectiveness. 

The TRUE Project partners include Wayne State University’s College of Education Teacher Education division, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Office of the Provost, Office of Vice President for Research, and College of Engineering. Government and corporate sector partners also include the US Department of Education, Michigan Department of Education, Wayne Regional Education Service Agency, Detroit Regional Chamber, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Dearborn Public Schools, and The Engineering Society of Detroit

The US Department of Education is funding 43 percent of this project with a total of US$1,111,126. The remaining amount of 57 percent of the fund will be matched by Wayne State University.