The Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP) is implementing far-reaching curriculum revisions designed to improve the way UTEP trains teachers, and especially how it prepares future teachers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. The program adds innovative partnerships with the Liberty Science Center and the Jersey City Public Schools. “We have to change the way we teach the sciences so we can ‘turn on’ more young people to science,” explains Dr. Joelle Tutela, director of UTEP.She and the program have proposed a bold new approach to teacher training in all disciplines, including plans to recruit more STEM teaching candidates, with the aim of implementing the new curriculum beginning fall 2015. NextGen will partner with the Jersey City Public Schools, and the Liberty Science Center, leveraging their “expertise, authority and resources to create structures and opportunities to grow and sustain the best and brightest future educators,” according to Tutela.
The curriculum, “Excite and Ignite: Building the Next Generation of Teachers (NextGen) ,” aims to improve student achievement and enhance the quality of prospective teachers in general, and STEM in particular, while filling a critical need for teachers in high needs areas for urban districts
NextGen is one of only 24 proposals nationwide to be funded through a five-year U.S. Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant, receiving $2.5 million. The 2014 TQP grants focused on both preparing more STEM teachers and increasing the numbers of STEM teachers from underrepresented groups: women, minorities and people with disabilities.
Tutela explains that the new program incorporates formal classes at RU-N and a year of clinical training, in the form of student teaching in Jersey City public schools. All of the Rutgers students – non-STEM as well as STEM -- also will be required to work on interdisciplinary projects at Liberty Science Center, which will draw upon the teaching specialty of each.
Curriculum revisions also will reflect updated and revised state and national guidelines for teacher preparation. The 30-credit teacher prep program will probably take about two years to complete, as does the current curriculum, notes Tutela.
Previously, UTEP recruited prospective teaching students from within RU-Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. But Tutela says Next Gen will work with the RU-N Admissions Office, the Jersey City school system and Liberty Science Center to aggressively market to transfer students and career-changing adults as well as incoming freshmen.
Tutela holds the Ph.D. in Urban Education from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
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