$8 million grant to put 60 math, science teachers in Cenla schools

The Rapides Foundation announced today that 60 people with math and science backgrounds will teach in Central Louisiana high schools while pursuing a tuition-paid master’s degree, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The project will create the Central Louisiana Academic Residency for Teachers (CART), a site-based teacher program that will take qualified college graduates and pay their tuition as they work toward a Master’s of Natural Science Degree. In turn, the residents will agree to teach in Central Louisiana high schools for three years after they receive their diploma.

The Rapides Foundation conceptualized the CART project to help Central Louisiana school districts with limited resources offer rigorous education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

It approached LSU, which officially submitted the $8 million federal Teacher Quality Partnership grant that will fund the project. The Rapides Foundation’s partners in this five-year endeavor are The Orchard Foundation, LSU, LSU Alexandria and the public Central Louisiana school districts of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn parishes.

The CART program is designed to increase student achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM, in Central Louisiana high schools by improving the quality and quantity of perspective new teachers.

“Research has proven that a strong background in STEM fields leads to more opportunities for our students,” said Joe Rosier, president and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. ”Our foundation maintains a strong commitment to improving the lives of the people in Cenla, and building a better educational system for our youth builds a more solid foundation for the future of this area.”

The residents will work in the schools while they pursue their master’s degrees, awarded from LSU. They will teach for three years in their assigned districts after they receive their diplomas. The 15 host schools are Oakdale High in Allen Parish; Avoyelles and Marksville high schools in Avoyelles; Block High in Catahoula; Montgomery High in Grant; LaSalle High in LaSalle; Bolton, Northwood, Peabody Magnet and Tioga high schools in Rapides; Lakeview and Natchitoches Central high schools in Natchitoches; Hornbeck and Rosepine high schools in Vernon Parish; and Winnfield Senior in Winn Parish.

LSU and its Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Basic Sciences and Education will lead the effort and The Gordon A. Cain Center for Scientific, Technological, Engineering and Mathematical Literacy will provide evaluation services.

“We are excited and honored to lead this program and take a giant step toward improving STEM education in Cenla,” said Gary Byerly, principal investigator on the grant and Richard R. & Betty S. Fenton Alumni Professor of Geology & Geophysics.

“This collaborative partnership is a model for the future of teacher preparation,” said M. Jayne Fleener, Dean of the LSU College of Education. “University and community partners have come together to make an important investment in the future of Louisiana. We are all stakeholders and winners in this collaborative endeavor.”

There are five major components to CART:

Teacher residency: Candidates co-teach for one year alongside an outstanding mentor teacher. During their first three years of teaching, the candidates are provided supportive induction services provided by the partners.

Student achievement and continuous improvement: The overall goal is to increase the number of students who are college- and workforce-ready by offering AP/Dual Enrollment/IB coursework in the STEM fields.

School leadership: CART provides leadership professional development to help build and strengthen the support structures necessary to attract and retain exemplary teachers.

Selection process: Candidates can be recent college graduates or mid-career changers.  They must hold an undergraduate degree in science, mathematics, engineering or other related field with 18 hours math or science content, earned a 3.0+ GPA, possess the qualities needed to teach effectively, and be willing to reside and teach in a high-poverty, rural location for a minimum of three years.

Broad-based partnership: The partners each bring unique attributes to the program to collectively ensure CART is successfully implemented and meets its goals.

For more information, call The Orchard Foundation at 318-767-6561.

One Response

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