Program Aims to Help Advance Science, Math Teachers' Careers

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Math for America

Rachel Banning-Lover speaks with Nicole Nunes, Director of Math for America, which is a program dedicated to providing mathematics and science teachers with professional development opportuninties and support.

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After teaching math in public schools for 12 years in both Berkeley and Oakland, Allison Krasnow was feeling "burned out."

That is, until she found out about a new fellowship program at UC Berkeley that provides support for math and science teachers to help them move forward in their careers and become leaders in their classrooms.

"Many times I've felt burned out and have considered doing something else," said Krasnow, currently a teacher at Willard Middle School. "But one reason I applied for the fellowship was because of the prestige associated with it and that it would keep me in the classroom."

The campus's Math for America Master Teacher Fellowship is a five-year program that was launched in August as part of a partnership between the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education's Cal Teach program and the national nonprofit Math for America. The program seeks to fill classrooms with better-equipped teachers who are knowledgeable and passionate about their subject and to address the national issue of secondary school students falling behind in math.

"We don't recognize our inspiring teachers enough," said John Ewing, president of Math for America. "Roughly half of teachers who start will leave by the end of five years, the most common reason being that the working conditions are just terrible. It's a very thankless and difficult job - they just burn out really quickly."

The first group of six fellows was drawn from middle and high schools across the East Bay by program organizers in July. The experience so far has been "exciting and energizing," Krasnow said.

In the first two years, fellows will continue to teach in their classrooms while meeting with each other and members of Cal Teach every two weeks to discuss teaching difficulties they are facing and how to overcome them.

Fellows will have the opportunity to work toward their National Board certification; in their third year, they will be able to take a sabbatical from teaching to take classes at UC Berkeley, working as new teacher supervisors with Cal Teach.

"I'm most looking forward to taking UC Berkeley math courses," said fellow Marlo Warburton, the chair of the math department at Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley. "The sabbatical idea is brilliant as it will allow me to get some perspective, help new math teachers and then come back to my job."

According to Nicole Nunes, director of Math for America Berkeley, the fellows will receive a $50,000 stipend over the five years to recognize that these teachers could have taken jobs with higher salaries within the fields of math and science.

"I felt like my head was hitting the ceiling ... This has just opened up a whole new world for me," Warburton said. "I've never been surrounded by people outside of my teaching world who appreciate teaching so much."


Contact Rachel Banning-Lover at [email protected]

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