Graduate Program Tackles STEM Teacher Prep

New Colorado Pathway Tackles Teacher STEM Ed 

A group of organizations announced plans to launch a graduate-level educator preparation program for Colorado teachers, intended to help them gain the credentials they need to teach STEM classes in K-12. The first focus of "STEMpath" will be computer science.

The project has pulled together mindSpark Learning, a non-profit that provides liaison help between industry and education; Couragion, a STEM career exploration company, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Colorado Succeeds, a non-profit group of business people who tackle education issues.

The group's first order of business: to set up the coursework, professional development and work-based (and paid) learning opportunities that will help teachers gain expertise in computer science. Topic coverage is expected to include career literacy, design thinking, algorithms and programming, cybersecurity and IT systems and information science. Educators will take 12 to 15 months to complete the program, making them qualified to teach CS.

STEMpath will launch in Colorado in January 2019, with an eye to expanding nationwide later that year. Open enrollment has already begun and will continue through October. The cost will be $12,140 per educator; but tuition will be offset through "extremely generous" scholarships being made available from the Morgridge Family Foundation and other local donors.

In an article on the mindSpark website, Shannon Myers, learning director of research and development, suggested that the structure of STEMpath is well-suited for other certification programs too. "While the initial sequence will focus on computer science," she wrote, "STEMpath is designed to be a plug and play system that allows educators to deep dive into various facets of the STEM spectrum by simply changing the graduate-level coursework."

Educators are already jumping on board. Jeffco Public Schools Career & Technical Education Director Marna Messer said she expected educators participating to become "uniquely qualified to offer programming that will enable our students to fill the workforce shortage."

Sharee Blunt, principal of STEM- and PTECH-focused Northglenn High School, added that her school's success "lies in preparing teacher leaders through intentional professional development opportunities and offering access to further their educational career. Better training and support for our teachers gives us the ability to expand innovative programming. STEMpath will be a game-changer for my staff, students, and community."

Learn more about how to apply or to host teacher interns on the mindSpark website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.