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An article in the NY Times explains that the American Museum of Natural History will introduce its first Master of Arts in teaching program.
According to Douglas Quenqua, they are looking for a small group of science majors, no teaching experience needed, to spend 15 months learning to become science teachers.
Tuition is free, thanks to the New York State Board of Regents. Students will receive $30,000 stipends and health benefits.
President of the museum Ellen V. Futter says “We’re looking for people who want to make a career of teaching and stay in the business, whether they be just out of college or former participants in a volunteer corps or career changers or veterans.”
The program aims to produce 50 new science teachers over two years for the state’s middle and high schools, which are coping with a critical shortage of math and science instructors.
The catch is that graduates must commit to spending four years teaching in a high-needs public school; they may be assigned anywhere in New York State.
At an open house which drew about 90 people, the museum had an opportunity to pitch the program. They also had to sell the concept of museum-as-classroom.
Question and answer sessions were held in the Astor Turret, a cylindrical, high-ceiling room that overlooks Central Park West. Then Rosamund Kinzler, director of science education at the museum, led participants through the gem and minerals collection.
“The courses will be graduate-level science courses,” said Kinzler, “but they’ll be taught specifically with an eye toward preparing individuals to teach science in the classroom.”
Students will study and eventually teach planets and their orbits, water and weather, and basic geology. The physical environment of New York — including Central Park across the street — will also play an important role in the courses.
Andrea Lewis, principal of Murry Bergstraum High School for Business and Careers in Manhattan, is happy about the program.
She says “I’m looking to find teachers who can bring the exterior world into the classroom, take their kids outside the building, to really learn how to analyze, and hopefully get involved wtih science because of the experience they’ve had.”
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