Attracting more teachers to math and science - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Attracting more teachers to math and science

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RICHLAND, Wash. -- Once a week, you'll find the next generation of teachers here at W.S.U. Tri-Cities. Men and women of different ages and backgrounds learning elementary math education. Many are still not sure what grade they want to teach, but for some students, math and science is their passion.

"I just figured since there is a shortage of teachers who teach math, it would be something good to get into and I'll be able to get a job easier that way, " says Shanelle Skells, who hopes to be a math teacher.

For Damion Miller, who's hopes to be a environmental science teacher would like to combine his interest with his career, "It's kind of been a passion of mine in the last 10 to 12 years. I've been involved in bicycling advocacy issues and I see that there's a demand for science teachers and it kind of coincides with my interest."

The students will fill a void that many school districts, including those in our area are trying to fill. While none of the three school districts in the Tri-Cities has vacancies for math or science teachers, each says it's hard to find the right person.

Of the ten students in the education class, only two are considering careers as math or science teachers.

"Again we know from national level research that many elementary math teachers themselves don't feel confident and competent about mathematics and they then avoid teaching it," says education professor Amy Roth McDuffie.

McDuffie says that mindset leads to a cycle where students grow up lacking confidence in math skills and students like Skells hope to change that.

"I think that by choosing to go in that direction, I'm setting an example for future teachers because if more people go out and do it then they might not fear it as much," says Skells.

But McDuffie feels fixing the problem begins early,  "I think it starts with developing more teachers that have a love of mathematics and developing more students that love mathematics."

In the meantime, she hopes to increase that love for math among her students every week.

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