New student org offers support, professional development to STEM teacher candidates
Most states in the U.S. are reporting a lack of well-qualified teachers across all disciplines, with the most severe shortages in math and the sciences. Giving teacher candidates the best possible preparation before entering the classroom is key to remedying the problem, and that's the purpose of UHCLTeach, a rigorous secondary math and science certification program designed to prepare the best math and science teachers in the country.
Lecturer in Secondary Science and Math Education Takisha Gastile said that along with other benefits that students can receive by joining the UHCLTeach program, a new student organization has been formed on campus to help create connections and networking opportunities.
Gastile said the new organization, called Future Educators in STEM, was established to promote the success of STEM pre-service teachers currently in the UHCLTeach program at UH-Clear Lake. "This new student organization will provide a formal and informal learning community for students who share common goals in education," Gastile said. "UHCLTeach is here to provide information to the general public and to not only serve the community of Clear Lake but also the surrounding Greater Houston Area by participating in different STEM and teaching related events."
She added that the UHCLTeach program would promote the participation and enrollment to the UHCL body and future students by being a mentor/ambassador for the future students who wish to participate in the program. "We want to expose the community to the benefits and great experiences derived from the UHCLTeach program," she said.
Gloria Pulido, the organization's vice-president, said that she came to UHCL knowing that teaching was her career path. "We hope to encourage students to join as future educators, and we hope to do more outreach and promotion at student expos," she said. "Within the organization, we have been promoting professional development by attending conferences and participating in volunteer opportunities in local school districts."
She said the group currently has 15 members. "As a pre-service teacher, I learned a lot about the resources that are available on campus for new teachers," she said. "Now I'm able to take more of a mentor role in the organization. A lot of students aren't yet in the upper-level classes. I can share my experiences and we feel a sense of community since we all are on the same path."
Pulido said she was graduating in December 2022 and hoped to teach in her own home school district, Galena Park. "I'm part of a program called HomeGrown, where teachers are trained, then return to their home school districts to teach. I will pursue my master's degree, and then I hope to achieve my doctorate and continue contributing to STEM education at the college level" she said. "I feel my training at UHCL and my experience in this organization will help me achieve those goals."
To learn more, go online to Student Organizations and search for Future Educators in STEM.