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Campuses unite to train science/math teachers

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Six University of Wisconsin System campuses are launching a collaborative program to address a shortage of science and mathematics teachers in area middle and high schools.

Beginning fall 2006, career math and science professionals interested in becoming secondary math and science teachers can enroll in the program at any of the campuses.

Approved last week by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the program will pool the resources of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and five UW Colleges – UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Fox Valley, UW-Manitowoc, UW-Marinette, and UW-Sheboygan.

“This program harnesses the skills and energy of area colleges to respond to a critical need in our region,” said UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard H. Wells.

The new Preparing Professionals for Alternative Careers in Education (PPACE) program grew out of discussions at the Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance (NEW ERA).

To enroll, PPACE applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a science field, but those with science-math career experience also would qualify. They also must have at least five years of career experience.UWFox Dean Jim Perry

Applicants should be able to complete the program in two years or less, depending on job experience and previous coursework.

“By speeding up the licensure process for people with real-world experience in science, math, engineering and technology, the program will bring people to the classroom with expertise in areas that will play a major role in the future vitality of our economy,” said UWFox CEO/Dean Jim Perry, who initiated development of the NEW ERA proposal.

An existing shortage and anticipated retirements will leave many school districts with a critical shortage of science and math teachers, Perry said.

The PPACE program expects to have 20 students when it begins next fall. After three years, about 40 students are expected to enroll each year and revenues are expected to cover all program costs.

Start-up costs will be split between UW-Oshkosh and the UW Colleges.

The five-phase program will include steps to make sure applicants want to move into a teaching career, assess applicant work experience in order to determine what further courses they will need, courses at UW-Oshkosh and UW Colleges using distance education and on-site classes and extensive practice teaching.

Courses will be offered at times convenient for students who remain employed during the initial phases of the program.

In the final phase, PPACE programming will assist students after they get their first teaching job by supporting and mentoring them in their new careers.

The NEW ERA panel that developed PPACE was headed by Craig Fiedler and Michael Ford, both administrators in the UW-Oshkosh College of Education and Human Services, and UWFox Associate Campus Dean Tom Pleger.

Individuals wanting more information in the program should contact the program administrator, Dr. Linda Reiss, lreiss@uwc.edu, (920) 929-3607.

Posted 3/10/2006