Duke Energy Foundation funding initiative to increase number and diversity of math, science educators in SC
Occupations in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are some of the fastest-growing in the nation, with 8.6 million STEM-related careers will be available by 2018, according to a study conducted by Georgetown University. The high demand for qualified people to fill STEM careers nationally is mirrored by a large and growing demand for STEM educators, currently in short supply, particularly in South Carolina.
The University of South Carolina College of Education has recognized this shortage of mathematics and science teachers. Through a gift from the Duke Energy Foundation, the college has launched a campaign, “Teach Science and Mathematics,” to recruit more students to teach STEM curriculum at the middle and high school levels.
Not only is there a shortage of STEM teachers in South Carolina, but there is also a surprisingly low number of minorities as secondary science and mathematics teachers.
- Ed Dickey, Ph.D., College of Education Professor
“Our efforts at USC mirror a national movement to recruit more and better STEM teachers,” says Ed Dickey, Ph.D., of the college’s Instruction and Teacher Education department, who is working with other faculty to realize the campaign’s goals.
“We are partnering with the Association of Public Land-grant Universities and the 100kin10 project to recruit, place and retain 100,000 STEM teachers nationally by 2023, and to have a comparable impact in our own state.”
The campaign seeks to change the diversity metric among STEM teachers, to increase College of Education enrollment for STEM teaching, and to change overall public perception of teaching in general.
According to the Southern Education Foundation, more than 40 percent of South Carolina’s students are African-American, but only 18 percent of their teachers are African-American. Teach Science and Mathematics focuses sharply on increasing the pool of all STEM teachers, with particular attention paid to increasing diversity. This will be accomplished by developing partnerships with African-American organizations and churches, as well as targeting rural areas and schools in South Carolina.
“Not only is there a shortage of STEM teachers in South Carolina, but there is also a surprisingly low representation of minorities as secondary science and mathematics teachers,” explains Dickey. “That statistic alone is reason to recruit more diverse teachers in South Carolina schools, especially in the STEM-related areas.”
The Teach Science and Mathematics campaign tactics, which began rolling out in December 2013, now include a website, print and public relations components, advertising, social media, event promotions and others developed to engage and encourage high school seniors and college students to explore careers as STEM teachers.
Teach Science and Mathematics has received assistance from the university’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications and Injeanious Media, a local, full-service advertising and public relations agency.
“We are honored and excited to be a part of this effort,” says Jean Triskett, president of Injeanious Media.
“STEM-focused careers are vital for South Carolina and the nation as a whole to remain competitive within the global economy. In order to do that, STEM education must improve by increasing the number of qualified STEM teachers in the classroom. Injeanious Media is well-positioned to bring dynamic marketing messages that urge students to consider careers in STEM teaching, and to choose the University of South Carolina for their teaching degree,” Triskett notes.