Towson will receive $2 million to launch program designed to produce math, science teachers

Towson University will receive $2 million in state and private grant funds to start a new program designed to increase production of math and science teachers.

The initiative will be based on the 15-year-old UTeach program, which more than doubled the output of math and science teachers at the University of Texas in Austin and is widely regarded as a model for training teachers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

UTeach offers financial incentives for math, science and computer science majors to train and enter the workforce as teachers. Participants are paired with mentors at local schools, who guide them in fieldwork throughout their four years of college. At Texas, 80 percent of UTeach participants remain teachers five years after graduation.

Interim state Superintendent Bernard Sadusky said the program will "supercharge math and science education throughout our schools."

Towson will become the 30th university to create a satellite version of the program. University officials say they hope to increase production of math and science teachers by 250 a year within four years. Towson already trains more teachers than any other university in the state.

In 2009, a task force created by Gov. Martin O'Malley said the state needed to triple its production of STEM teachers by 2015. State officials regard the Towson program as a centerpiece of that effort.

The program will be launched with $1.33 million from the Maryland State Department of Education and $680,000 from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. The state university system has committed $300,000 a year to operate UTeach at Towson.

Former state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, now a faculty member at Towson, helped bring the program to campus.

"There is an urgent need for Americans to be engaged in STEM careers if our nation is to remain competitive with the rest of the world," she said in a statement. "Well-prepared teachers are critical to achieving this goal and no program is more effective at this preparation than UTeach."

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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