AUSTIN, Texas—Toyota USA Foundation has awarded a $390,000 grant to The University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science Teaching, more than doubling mentoring initiatives for kindergarten through 12th grade science teachers statewide.
The award-winning Texas Regional Collaboratives, a part of the university’s College of Education, offers professional development and individualized teacher mentoring to 20 regional collaboratives throughout Texas. The collaboratives are groups of colleges, universities, education service centers, school districts and businesses working together to improve science education in schools.
"It is essential to the health of society that we interest students in science at an early age," said Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin. "We need more scientists and engineers. Moreover, we need informed citizens. Science education has an enormous impact in shaping the future, and we are grateful to Toyota USA for its support of this initiative."
The three-year grant will start the Toyota USA-Regional Collaborative Partnership, joining more than 50 other national and state corporations that contribute funding and equipment to the Texas Regional Collaboratives (TRC).
After Texas teachers receive special science education training at TRC sessions, they are expected to return home and each train an additional five to 10 teachers, said TRC Director Kamil Jbeily.
"For the state of Texas economy to compete globally, we must have a good supply of talented scientists, engineers and mathematicians," said Manuel J. Justiz, dean of the university’s College of Education. "It really all begins in elementary and secondary school classrooms. In order to produce a talented workforce, it’s even more important to have gifted, talented science teachers at all levels of the K-12 pipeline."
More than a third of all states in this country require new teachers to participate in some type of formal mentoring program. The programs are aimed at slashing attrition rates for newly trained teachers, which can approach more than 50 percent after five years.
"We are pleased to support this outstanding, innovative science education program that will provide substantive professional development and mentoring for so many teachers during the next three years," said Yoshi Inaba, Toyota USA Foundation president. "The Texas Regional Collaboratives is an excellent example that seeks to address the critical needs of today’s students."
Toyota USA Foundation, a $35 million charitable endowment created and funded by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., supports innovative educational programs serving kindergarten through 12th grade classroom education. The foundation emphasizes science and mathematics.