It was a little like the first day of school for the 20 new Wipro science education fellows. Science educators from five Massachusetts public school districts came to the UMass Club this week to kick off what will be a two-year professional development experience. Teachers will complete 250 hours of training that will culminate in hands-on implementation of an innovative project in their home school districts.
Wipro, an IT solutions company, has given $3.4 million to start pilot fellowship programs in Boston and New Jersey. An additional $1.7 million has been allocated to begin a teacher training program in New York. Wipro chose UMass Boston as its first partner university to administer these training programs.
Wipro representative Francisca Godinho said that Wipro is interested in science and technology education, and especially in educating teachers. “As an IT company, we know the importance of a good grounding in science,” she said.
The first school districts to participate in the Wipro Science Education Fellowship program are the Braintree, Cambridge, Malden, Pembroke, and Boston Public Schools. Teachers within each district had to apply to the program through district coordinators. While STEM education is the focus of this training, teachers in classrooms from kindergarten through grade 12 are involved with the program.
Desiree Phillips, a Cambridge Rindge and Latin special education teacher, is in the first cohort of teachers selected for the program. She advised the new teachers to, “Make the most of it. Put yourself out there. You barely get to work with teachers in your own districts – now you get to work with five.”
New fellow Gina Achin, a science teacher at the South Middle School in Braintree, views her participation in the program as a way to learn from her peers. “I’m really excited to work with teachers from different grade levels.”
Arthur Eisenkraft, director of the Center of Science and Mathematics in Context and a distinguished professor of science education, hopes to see the Wipro SEF program expand across the country. “We’ve created a model that we can export to other communities, and that will reach many, many students,” he said.