Nov. 22, 2004

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Contact: Lizette Peter, School of Education Institute for Educational Research and Public Service, (785) 864-9668.

Recruits for First Transition to Teaching teach math, science in KCK classrooms

LAWRENCE - The first recruits in a federally funded alternative certification program to help reduce shortages of math and science teachers in the Kansas City, Kan., public schools began teaching assignments this fall.


Eight novice teachers are enrolled in the Transition to Teaching program offered through the University of Kansas School of Education and the KCK public school district.
The School of Education is recruiting more candidates to begin training next summer. In five years, the program seeks to prepare 160 new teachers for middle and high schools with a $1.9 million federal education grant.


The application deadline for 2005 is Jan. 14. Informational sessions will be offered at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30, in the Kansas City, Kan., Public Library, 625 Minnesota Ave., and at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, in the Blue Valley Library, 9000 W. 151st St., Overland Park.


Applicants must be college graduates with degrees in math and the sciences or related degrees such as engineering; must have demonstrated professional success; and must commit to teaching at least four years in the Kansas City, Kan., school district.


Since entering the program in June, the first recruits have been learning what it means to be a professional teacher, says Lizette Peter, project coordinator. “For most of them, it's been awhile since they've been in the classroom.”


The group's average age is 43. All earned their bachelor's degrees at least five years ago; some have master's degrees; one has a doctorate and another has completed all but a dissertation for a doctorate. They left positions in software engineering, regulatory laboratories, college classrooms and business management, to do something they have always wanted to do: be a teacher and make a difference in a young person's life.


Besides learning teaching skills from KCK and KU faculty, the trainees are learning about both the challenges and the opportunities for professional growth in urban schools. Some are experiencing what it is like being a minority in a diverse setting. Nearly all have been amazed at the amount of daily work required of teachers to stay organized and on top of their lesson plans.

Peter notes that the first class began with 11 recruits in June but that three left after a few months.


“ They would all tell you that it isn't easy,” Peter says, “yet each has said, 'I have always dreamed of being a teacher.' They are committed to making that dream a reality.”


The first recruits began intensive education courses in curriculum, lesson planning and classroom management taught at F.L. Schlagle High School by Mary Stewart, KCKPS math coach, and Gary Anderson, KCKPS science curriculum coordinator. Shane Lopez, associate professor of education, taught assessment theory and techniques at KU's Edwards Campus, 12600 Quivira Road, Overland Park. In the second week of training, the recruits began teaching summer school at Schlagle High for students making up math credits and students in science enrichment programs.


By August, the recruits had earned seven graduate credits. At the end of their second year, candidates will have earned 24 education credits, making them eligible for full licensing in Kansas. They are committed to teach at least two more years in the KCKPS district.


Tom Petz, director of secondary personnel for KCKPS, says that he believes the program will work for the students. “We need these teachers and we are committed to alternative licensure if we can get the math and science teachers we need to fill anticipated vacancies in the next few years.”


The first group of Transition to Teaching recruits, their home cities and their teaching assignments are:


Mandana Ershadi-Hurt, Lawrence; science, Argentine Middle School: Ershadi-Hurt came to Kansas from Iran during the hostage crisis in the 1980s. She notes, “I was able to endure by learning to relate, individually, to each person in my day and refusing to let the stereotypes and prejudice prevail.” Ershadi-Hurt has completed all but her dissertation for a doctorate in microbiology at KU and has 10 years' experience with the Kansas agriculture department as a laboratory evaluation officer. She earned a bachelor's in home economics and general science and a master's in biology and microbiology from Pittsburg State University. She has served as a Girl Scout troop leader and teaches karate.


Joelyn Foy, Lawrence; science, Washington High School: Foy has worked as a data entry operator for Medical Device Tracking at NCS Pearson and has eight years' experience as a research associate with a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. Foy earned master's degrees in agricultural education and economics at Texas A&M and one in range ecosystem science at Colorado State University. She has a bachelor's degree in animal science from Texas A&M. Foy has volunteered to develop online courses for a church Advent and Lenten study series and was an adults vacation Bible school teacher.

Jakima Hampton, Kansas City, Kan.; science, Wyandotte High School: A native of Kansas City, Kan., Hampton has worked as a program coordinator for Los Ninos International Adoption Center and an aptitude-test scorer for NCS Pearson. She has managed a shelter for victims of domestic violence and worked in health care management, corporate strategy and product development for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Hampton has a bachelor's in biology from Prairie View A&M University in Texas and has taken graduate courses in physical therapy. Hampton has served on the Unified Government of Wyandotte County Mayor's Council Against Domestic Violence and on the Kansas Attorney General's Women of Color Committee.


Mathew Hillmer, Lawrence; math, Schlagle High School: An engineer, Hillmer has worked for Professional Engineering Consultants in Lawrence and for LKPB Consulting Engineers in St. Paul, Minn. He earned a bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota. He has been an assistant soccer coach with the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department and has judged forensics at Lawrence and Free State high schools.


Frank Kutchko, Lenexa; math as a substitute: Kutchko has taught physics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph and Fort Hays State University in Hays. He has 14 years' experience as a software engineer for Pactech Data and Research Inc. and IMR Systems Corp. and has done research using computer simulations for space physics. Kutchko earned a doctorate in physics at KU and bachelor's and master's degrees in physics at UMKC.


Jack Taylor, Lee's Summit, Mo.; math, Rosedale Middle School: A Washington High School graduate, Taylor earned a bachelor's in business administration at KU and worked as a test engineer for Sprint Corp. for 13 years. He founded his own business, New Vintage Inc., which capitalized on Internet technology opportunities. Taylor also plays trumpet and is band leader for the New Vintage Big Band and has performed with high school and community college students. He has volunteered as a church youth group sponsor.


Patrick Walker, Overland Park; math, J.C. Harmon High School: Walker has more than 10 years' experience as a software engineer for Black & Veatch Solutions Group in Kansas City, Mo., and spent eight years working with flight software for Martin Marietta Astronautics in Denver. He also worked as a manager for HyVee Groceries. Walker earned a bachelor's degree in math and computer science at the California University of Pennsylvania and has completed graduate courses in math at the University of Denver.


Kurt Zuschek, Roeland Park; math, Schlagle High School: Zuschek has 15 years' experience in telemarketing design and training with New England Financial and Northwestern Mutual. He earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at KU and has taken graduate courses in sociology at KU. Zuschek has also tutored math, worked as a city league softball coach and a Little League umpire, and been a crisis intervention counselor.

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