I am surrounded by scientists. My husband has a PhD in electrical engineering. My father has a PhD in mathematics. My sister has a master's in math and her husband has a PhD in physics. Yes, it makes for a family reunion geekfest, but it also means that math and science are very important in our family.

When my oldest was just a baby I typeset my sister's master's thesis, titled Scientists, Schoolteachers, and the Two Cultures of Mathematics. The information I read there compelled me to research further about those who introduce the majority o f America's children to math. In a nutshell, statistically public school teachers don't like math, don't excel in math, and the majority select elementary/secondary education as a major in order to avoid upper level math! (See Lucy Sells, Marilyn Burns, et. al. for more.)

That wasn't the education I hoped my children would receive. In fact, the poor foundation that most teachers have in math was the single greatest catalyst in our beginning to homeschool in 1994.

Today I learned about a group that may be part of the education solution. The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship offers a $30,000 stipend to recent college graduates and those changing careers to complete an intensive master's degree program. The goal is to recruit, prepare, and retain great teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM fields). Recipients can choose from among 14 participating universities in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. My dad was a math professor at one of the universities, Purdue, before I was born!

Do you qualify for this award? You'll be competitive if you meet the following criteria:

  • Completed an undergraduate degree in a STEM field by June 2011.
  • Graduated with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the program and its goals.

If you are interested in applying, remember that there is a September 1st deadline!

Here are some of the great features of the program:

  • Complete a field-based master's degree in teacher education.
  • Commit to teach for at least three years in a high-need school.
  • Receive intensive support and mentoring in the classroom.
  • Funded by states and nonprofit organizations.

The unfortunate name aside (Woodrow Wilson is my least favorite president in history), this kind of community program is a positive step toward improving teaching in science, technology, engineering, and math — four areas very close to my heart.