The mission of TLU's T.O.P. Dogs STEM Teacher Program is to produce highly effective, culturally competent teachers who will work in high-needs school districts in South Central Texas.
Under the direction of Physics Department Chair Dr. Toni Sauncy and Education Department Chair Jeannette Jones, the program is designed to prepare STEM teachers to be successful in 7th through 12th-grade STEM classrooms.
The program includes an emphasis on cultural awareness and focused mentoring with our partner school districts including Seguin, Nixon-Smiley, Gonzales, and Luling independent school districts.
Since the T.O.P. Dogs STEM Teacher Program works directly with TLU’s Department of Education, pre-service teachers will be well prepared to obtain teaching certification upon graduation, while also mastering advanced STEM content in a chosen discipline. Through collaborative mentoring in the STEM fields and Education, students will receive the best research-based training in how to best deliver rigorous STEM content to a diverse set of students in their future classrooms.
Students in the program will earn one of six degrees:
- B.S. Biology (for certification in Life Sciences, 7-12)
- B.S. Chemistry with an emphasis in Physics (for certification in Physical Science, 7-12)
- B.S. Mathematics (for certification in Mathematics, 2-12)
- B.S. Mathematics with an emphasis in Physics (for certification in Physics/Math, 7-12)
- B.S. Physics with an emphasis in Chemistry (for certification in Physical Science, 7-12)
- B.S. Physics with an emphasis in Mathematics (for certification in Physics/Math, 7-12)
These degrees are STEM degrees, with course work tailored to the expectations of students entering the STEM workforce, with the bonus of equipping graduates to obtain the credentials to teach. With the additional cultural competency training, mentoring and classroom experience, students who complete the program will be attractive candidates to fill the needs of school districts around the state.
Anyone can be part of the program, as early as their freshman year. To be admitted into education courses, students must have completed at least 15 hours in the chosen discipline, and apply to be part of the education training program.
Why Be A STEM Teacher?
T.O.P. Dogs STEM Teacher Program participants will benefit from strong, nationally recognized student groups including the TLU Society Of Physics Students, Pi Rho Chemistry Club, Tri Beta Biology Club and the TLU Math Club that allow for leadership and service development. Pre-service teachers will have the opportunity to "try it out" in performing outreach and service activities a variety of on- and off-campus events.
Students in the T.O.P. Dogs STEM Teacher Program will have the opportunity to participate in undergraduate or summer research projects, many of which offer paid positions to further develop their scientific and mathematics knowledge and skills. Students in all STEM disciplines present research work at state, local, and national level conferences several times each year.
T.O.P. Dogs STEM Teacher Program participants will benefit from strong, nationally recognized student groups including the TLU Society Of Physics Students, Pi Rho Chemistry Club, Tri Beta Biology Club and the TLU Math Club that allow for leadership and service development. Pre-service teachers will have first-hand opportunities to perform outreach and service activities at a variety of on- and off-campus events.
According the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation And Improvement, there are many key benefits to becoming a STEM teacher.
Increased Pay & Earning Potential
Teacher leadership roles sometimes come with additional compensation that can serve as incentives to further develop their careers and stay in education. Highly-qualified STEM teachers are widely sought after, as these fields have documented shortages throughout the U.S., and particularly in Texas.
Increased Capacity to Plan & Pursue a Career Path
Pre-service STEM teachers will benefit from intentional curricular and extracurricular activities focused on professional and career development. Students will be guided in developing their passion to teach and encouraged to take advantage of leadership and involvement opportunities. Program participants will be fostered in the development of their identities in and outside the classroom, working with both peers and mentors to improve STEM education in their communities. They will be able to clarify professional goals and think past their first year of teaching.
As part of the program, students will be guided in building diverse professional networks that serve as the foundation for a successful career as an inspiring educator. These professional networks of educators and educational leaders will be invaluable for sharing resources once in the classroom. Teacher candidates will benefit from the opportunity to begin to build this STEM network early in their career. Teacher preparation programs can help seed these networks through alumni groups and mentors associated with the program, and they can provide information about formal STEM organizations and networks (e.g., teacher associations, advocacy groups, education thought leaders and social media).
Continued Learning – Beyond Graduation
Being a successful STEM educator and leader requires persistence and commitment as a life-long learner. The T.O.P. Dogs STEM Teacher program keeps new teachers connected with professional development and continuing education opportunities beyond graduation.
Students in the program will follow degree plans focused in completing STEM and supporting courses for the first two years.
What If I Want To Teach Now & Do Something Later In Life?
Because your degree is in a STEM field, your options will be the same as any other STEM graduate. This means that a wide variety of careers are possible for those students who complete the program, even if they decide at some point to make a career switch. In addition, participants will be qualified to pursue other education-related career paths by completing advanced degree programs. This might include careers as an instructional coordinator, academic advisor, education consultant, education policy analyst, school principal, and educational administrator.