Biologist Kaleigh LaRiche spent most of her first two years after college working in wildlife education at the Akron, Ohio, zoo. Today, she's a first-year science teacher in a Cleveland middle school.
LaRiche, who earns her master's in education from the University of Akron this spring, thanks the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship for her confidence in the classroom. The two-year master's program recruits accomplished science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) college graduates, as well as career changers like LaRiche, and puts them through their paces in preparation to work in high-need schools.
It is one of several model programs leading the charge to fulfill President Barack Obama's call for 100,000 highly qualified STEM teachers over the next decade, and to get them ready for the much-anticipated new K-12 math and science standards. With only 26 percent of U.S. 12th graders now deemed proficient in math, most states have adopted more rigorous new Common Core Standards for what kids should master at each level.