VolsTeach brings STEM Teaching to Appalachia

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Video and Article by Sarah Plemmons

Lynn Hodge is an associate professor of Mathematics Education in the department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education within the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. She is the Co-Director of VolsTeach for Appalachia, a program designed to recruit science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors to also earn a license to teach secondary education.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Pellissippi State Community College are partnered with five local school districts. These districts are considered high-need, meaning a majority of their students come from low-income families.

VolsTeach’s goal is to provide high-quality and diverse STEM teachers to these schools in East Tennessee, which they accomplish by recruiting STEM majors from community college. Participants are selected from a group of high-potential students called Noyce Appalachian Scholars. These students are supported throughout their academic careers while they pursue their STEM majors with a minor in education and earn their secondary education license.

Students participate in out-of-classroom field experience and given access to summer internships, enhanced coursework and scholarship support for two years. The program does not include any additional credit hours, making it possible for students to graduate within four years and enter the workforce as highly qualified educators. Upon graduation, VolsTeach students commit their first four years of teaching to high-need schools districts in East Tennessee. Hodge’s hope for the program is that it will give STEM teachers a boost into the workforce and into understanding what is required to teach in rural, high-need schools. She hopes it will inspire more STEM teachers to enter into the workforce and provide the high- quality teachers needed for the schools and their students to be successful.

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