In the last 30 years, the number of people working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations has shot up 79 percent, outpacing overall job growth. As demand for these skills continues to rise, there’s an urgent need to direct more young people into STEM careers. Yet the rush to fill STEM jobs is hamstrung by the country’s shortage of qualified teachers in STEM disciplines. The shortage is particularly acute among African Americans, particularly African American men. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that just 2 percent of teachers are Black men.
A new initiative at Georgia State University is seeking to encourage more Black men to become teachers in STEM disciplines. Professor Christine Thomas and assistant professor Natalie King in the College of Education at Georgia State University are working with two local school districts to recruit STEM professionals into teaching, and develop them as leaders in the classroom and beyond.
Thomas and King are working with community organizations, including Morehouse College, 100 Black Men of South Metro and local religious groups, to help recruit 30 teacher-fellows. Each will spend one year earning a master’s degree in teaching at Georgia State, after which they will be placed in positions in Rockdale and Fulton County school districts. During their first five years in the classroom, the teacher-fellows will receive additional support and professional development in the form of signature learning experiences.
Natalie King explains that “our goal is that those who come through this program will become leaders within their schools and districts, and will help to strengthen STEM education in the state of Georgia.”