Partnership Aims to Create STEM Teacher Pipeline

The University of California, Riverside, and the Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) have partnered on an initiative to attract new STEM teachers to the California district.

Dubbed the UCR-RUSD Pipeline Scholarship, the new program offers a scholarship to teachers enrolled in the graduate school of education's teacher track as they work toward a specialized credential in a STEM subject and willing to complete their student teaching requirements in a RUSD school. In addition to the scholarship, those selected will also be guaranteed an interview with RUSD. If offered a position with the district, scholarship winners must be willing to commit to teaching there for three to five years.

The goal of the scholarship is to help combat the shortage of teachers with backgrounds in STEM areas, according to Kathy Allavie, RUSD board member and creator of the scholarship.

"This isn't an issue that's unique to Riverside," Allavie said of the teacher shortage. "It's a national problem: Nobody has enough science and math teachers. I had the idea that if we could build some kind of pipeline from UCR's Graduate School of Education into RUSD, it could be a clever way to help us get some of the teachers we really need — and a way for us to better support those teachers by creating a direct pathway into some of their first jobs."

"The Riverside community watched me grow up. Everything I know came from here, so receiving the scholarship is really an opportunity to give back to the place that helped me get to where I am now," said Maria Hernandez, the first winner of the scholarship. "It's also a way for me to get my foot in the door and get more support from the district because I do want to stay here in RUSD."

"We'd like to have a lot more RUSD students access UCR as their choice of university," added Allavie. "In the Inland Empire area specifically, it's been shown that when people go to college here, there's almost a 70 percent likelihood that they'll choose to stay after graduating. It's very important to us that we try to keep our smartest kids in Riverside, to learn and work and invest in the local community. It makes the community better, and it really makes a case for strengthening the lines of communication between UCR and RUSD."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].