MSUTeach, an affiliate of the UTeach program, allows STEM majors to gain a bachelor’s degree in their content area of biology, chemistry, earth science, mathematics or physics while also completing the coursework toward certification in secondary education. It offers a flexible approach that expands career opportunities such as pursuing a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career, graduate school or sharing their successes with students through teaching.
MSUTeach was established at Morehead State University thanks to a generous $3 million gift from Drs. Ernst and Sara Lane Volgenau, with the College of Education now being named in their honor. It produced its first cohort of graduates in December of 2018. Although the program is still in its infancy, it’s already making a significant impact.
“Everyone has been so supportive, ranging from MSU students to faculty, the extended family of UTeach, which goes all over the nation—and that’s 25 years of graduates and master teachers that are the glue,” said Dr. Edna Schack, professor of education and co-director of MSUTeach. “The curriculum is what makes it a great program. The students see how teaching in math and science integrates. They realize the master teachers have content knowledge that supports them in how they teach.”
Stephen Burke (17) is a recent graduate who is now teaching at McNabb Middle School in Mt. Sterling. As a science teacher in the Advanced Track Program, Burke’s MSU education, coupled with access to an extensive network of teachers, has made all the difference.
“The community of people that have gone through the program is outstanding. I reach out to them and we share lesson plans, so if I ever need anything, I’ve got that network I can connect with. Plus, because it’s so project-instruction driven, I’ve been able to share it with my fellow teachers, and they’ve latched on and are utilizing it, too.”
Master teachers maintain contact with the graduates out in the field as they go into their jobs. They gather graduates every month with video calls to offer constant encouragement and support.
“… we’ve found that the UTeach model is retaining teachers at a much higher rate. Given the importance of math and science, that’s a positive step in the right direction.”Dr. David Long
“We’re in touch from the very beginning with students, observing and providing feedback,” said Dr. Michael Dobranski, associate professor of mathematics and co-director of MSUTeach. “We get students out and active in the classrooms as early as possible and then maintain that contact after graduation. That’s the biggest key in making this program a success.”
Dr. David Long, assistant professor of education, says the implementation of MSUTeach is not only enhancing the learning experience but also keeping teachers in the classroom.
“On a national level in recent years, there’s been difficulty retaining enough math and science teachers in secondary environments. Research has shown that we’re losing as much as 50% by the fifth year.”
The MSUTeach program has produced 13 graduates since its implementation. Schack estimates that the university needs to turn out 13-18 graduates per year to fill the anticipated math and science teaching vacancies in the MSU service region. Interest earned from the Volgenau’s gift funds the scholarships.
To learn more about MSUTeach, visit www.moreheadstate.edu/msuteach, or call 606-783-9036. To contact Dr. Edna O. Schack, professor of education, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. J. Michael Dobranski, associate professor of mathematics, email@example.com.
For more information on the Volgenau Scholarship Endowment, or to establish your own, contact MSU’s Office of Alumni Relations and Development at 606-783-2033, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit alumni.moreheadstate.edu.