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CWU Teach STEM graduates to meet with newest program students

The newest graduates of CWU’s novel Teach STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program will meet with upcoming graduates during a special event to be held at CWU-Des Moines.


Based on the successful, national UTeach model, CWU’s Teach STEM is a partnership involving the university’s sciences and education departments. It is specifically for students seeking teacher certification in STEM fields, which includes computer science. STEM teachers are critically needed, as there has been a documented more than 20-year shortage in Washington alone. 


Most of the programs first 22 students who completed the program last June are already employed at school districts around the state. A number of them will be on-hand to talk about their experiences with those in the first class to be enrolled in Teach STEM at CWU-Des Moines. The Teach STEM Des Moines 2019 Celebration event is planned for Tuesday, October 22, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at Highline College, Building 2.


At the gathering, Kimber Conners, executive director of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS), and Joelle Denny, vice president of Human Resources for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, who is also a member of the WSOS board of directors will address and meet with attendees.


“WSOS is a public-private partnership that is committed to helping our state address the critical need for more STEM teachers,” says Jennifer Dechaine-Berkas, who co-directs CWU’s Teach STEM and is a professor of biology and science education. “It was instrumental in providing financial and other support needed for us to begin our Teach STEM program. In just two years, we are on track to double the amount of STEM teachers graduating in Ellensburg. We’re looking forward to having June graduates meet with those who will be our first graduates from CWU-Des Moines.”


CWU President James L. Gaudino, Paul Ballard, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies; and Tim Englund, dean, College of the Sciences will also be on hand to welcome the first western Washington students into the program.   


“We have a strong, long-term partnership with Highline College, where our Des Moines University Center is located,” explained Dechaine-Berkas. “We have a number of faculty who have been working in science and math education there for years. We had a good community there already that was able to take on this program.”


Nationwide, 44 universities in 23 states and the District of Columbia have implemented UTeach programs. However, CWU’s two-year Teach STEM is the only program of its kind in Washington. 


“Across the country, the number of people becoming teachers has been dropping for a long time,” said Dechaine-Berkas. “What’s important is that, since UTeach has been underway, there’s been an increase in the number of people becoming math and science teachers, and those choosing to teach STEM in high-needs schools too.”


The first cohort of students now taking coursework in the CWU-Des Moines Teach STEM program, which began fall quarter, will be among the next group to continue that upward trend, along with those who are now making an impact from the first graduating class. 




Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,


Photo: (L. to r.) Kimber Connors, executive director, Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS), and Joelle Denney, vice president, Human Resources, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, who serves on the WSOS board of directors.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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