One important way Texas A&M University fulfills its mandate to be accessible while also maintaining its commitment to excellence is to help build the educational pipeline in Texas. That translates into students being admitted into Texas A&M who are better prepared to take on the rigors of studying at a Tier 1 university, to graduate in a timely manner and to be productive members of society.
Building the pipeline begins with superior teacher training at the college level; it’s impossible to make an impact on K-12 without great teachers. Timothy Scott, associate dean for undergraduate programs, founded aggieTEACH in 2001 specifically to address the shortage of teachers in the high need areas of mathematics and science.
“We’ve always had a number of students choosing to be science and math majors,” said Scott, “but many of them weren’t sure what they wanted to do with their degrees once they graduated. At the same time, we knew we had a national need to provide the highest quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers possible in order to inspire and motivate the next generation of scientists and engineers. It’s the only way we can compete in this global society.”
AggieTEACH meets that national need by carefully designing a degree plan so students can complete all major courses in science or mathematics, and the necessary teaching certification courses in 120 hours. This plan ensures that Aggie teachers not only have deep content knowledge in their field but also graduate at the optimal four-year graduation rate.
“Initially, I send a letter of congratulations to every science and math major admitted to Texas A&M, inviting them to explore the possibility of combining their major with teaching. After all, teaching is an esteemed profession which fits in perfectly with our Aggie core values of leadership and selfless service. I also explain that by joining the aggieTEACH program, they will be helping to meet a national need,” Scott added.
But aggieTEACH goes way beyond recruiting.
“Field experience is critical for identifying good teachers,” said Scott, “so we start early, by providing our Aggie freshmen first-hand experience in middle and high school classrooms. We pair them with master teachers we’ve identified in the Bryan and College Station school districts and let their expert mentoring and modeling inspire them. Students who aren’t cut out to be teachers figure it out quickly, but for the rest, being immersed in a classroom setting with an inspiring teacher enhances their own passion to teach and to emulate those who do it best.”
Approximately 10 percent of freshman math and science majors sign up for the initial course in aggieTEACH, which translates into 100-150 math and science majors choosing to pursue teacher certification annually. In fact, aggieTEACH has helped position Texas A&M as the state leader in university-trained mathematics and science teachers for the last six years, according to the Texas State Board for Educator Certification.
Scott takes pride in the fact that Texas A&M is one of the largest universities implementing a degree plan like aggieTEACH. He has been invited to speak about the implementation and success of the program at Iowa State University, Indiana University, Purdue University and other institutions of higher education.
“The challenge we face now is expanding our horizons,” Scott concluded. “I can envision the same type of program extended to other majors, such as engineering, visualization, geoscience and agriculture. Of course we want Aggies to graduate and excel in all those professions, but to help build the educational pipeline, we need to produce great teachers. When those teachers also have deep knowledge of the STEM fields, they have the power to motivate and inspire the next generation.”
Media contact: Lynn Paris, Communications Coordinator, at (979) 845-6746