Schools across the country perpetually struggle to find qualified math and science teachers. North Carolina is doubling one of its programs aimed at luring engineers and scientists into the teaching profession.
Greg Stolve has been an industrial engineer for the past fifteen years. But that’s not the career he planned on in college. He wanted to be a teacher, until an academic advisor told him engineers make more money and finish school faster. So that’s what he did.
“Well, honestly, my work in industry has gotten to be not very rewarding,” says Stolve.
Now Stolve is enrolled in a 15 month training program to turn people with backgrounds in science, engineering and math into teachers. It’s called the NC STEM Teacher Education Program and it’s funded by a federal grant so participants don’t have to pay a dime. Stolve will take online seminars to learn how to be a teacher and spend at least 18 hours a week getting hands on experience in the classroom.
The alternative for people like Stolve is to just get a job in a school and teach while earning the state-required certificate. That’s what Stolve’s wife actually did many years ago.
“She advised me that it’s a hard thing to do. You take education classes while you’re in a classroom full-time trying to learn how to teach and learn how to manage a classroom without much help,” says Stolve.
The NC STEM Teacher Education Program is intended to make the transition easier. It started in four high schools earlier this year. Next year it will grow to include eight high schools and forty participants. None of those are in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.