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Innovative MonarchTeach Program is on Path to Success

Photo of MonarchTeach visit by delegates from ThailandDelegates from the Thailand Ministry of Education participate in a hands-on activity during a recent visit to ODU's MonarchTeach program. Photo of MonarchTeach co-directors Mary Enderson and Rich WhittecarMonarchTeach co-directors Rich Whittecar and Mary Enderson receive a gift from Praiwan Pitaksalee (center), director of Thailand’s Bureau of Academic Affairs and Educational Standards.

Old Dominion University's MonarchTeach initiative isn't scheduled to graduate its first student until 2017; however, the innovative collaborative effort between the Darden College of Education and College of Sciences is already showing signs of success.

MonarchTeach allows mathematics, science and technology majors to receive teaching licensure while earning degrees in their content areas. The program, approved by the Virginia General Assembly in 2012, is modeled after the nationally acclaimed UTeach program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Early indicators of the ODU program's long-term success, include:

  • Matriculation of students through the program continues to exceed expectations. Of the 64 students who completed the Step 1 course during the 2013-14 academic year, 30-32 are continuing in the program.
  • The Step 1 and Step 2 course and partnerships with Larchmont Elementary, Sewells Point Elementary, and Blair Middle School continue to be very successful. Feedback from the students on the program has been very positive.
  • Marketing of the program continues to be very successful as word continues to spread. Staff has seen a marked interest in the program this semester.
  • The MonarchTeach Living Learning Community (LLC) has been approved to open in fall 2014. Located in Ireland House, the LLC will consist of 24 beds on the second floor of the dorm. To date, eight students (six females and two males) have committed to living in the LLC for the 2014-15 academic year. In addition, the program has just secured a commitment from an incoming freshman and will promote the LLC in the freshmen previews. Plans call for several additional freshmen to commit to the LLC by the end of the summer.
  • Through funding from the dean's office in the College of Education, MonarchTeach hired four student workers for the MonarchTeach workroom. Each student works 10 hours a week, allowing the workroom to open Monday-Friday.
  • Eight faculty and staff members, along with two MonarchTeach students, attended the UTeach Institute conference in May.
  • MonarchTeach faculty and staff, at the request of the ODU Department of International Programs, hosted a meeting on June 9 with 18 delegates from the Thailand Ministry of Education, including the minister and deputy minister of education. The meeting consisted of a formal presentation on the MonarchTeach program, followed by a hands-on activity facilitated by ODU master teachers.
  • Eleven MonarchTeach students are participating in six- to eight-week-long summer internships. MonarchTeach faculty and staff oversee the internships to ensure bi-weekly visits to the sites, which include: The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation, Portsmouth Public Schools, Norfolk Public Schools, The Children's Museum of Virginia and ODU research with Fred Dobbs, of the Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Science Department faculty.

In addition, current STEM student students in the program rave about the opportunities MonarchTeach has offered.

"I always knew I wanted to teach, but it was exciting teaching lesson plans I developed for students sooner in my academic career than I had expected," said Jacob Newman, an ODU sophomore majoring in ocean, earth and atmospheric science. "Seeing the actual expression on each child's face when he or she grasped the concept I was teaching only reinforced my decision to teach."

Kirsten Young, a biology/pre-veterinarian major, expressed similar sentiments about the program.

"Since MonarchTeach is only one class a semester, it doesn't overload your schedule, and the work is easily managed with your STEM courses," she said. "I would tell any student considering the program to give it a try. I had not considered teaching. However, during this program I not only gained detailed-oriented organizational and public speaking skills, but also learned that I love teaching. Gaining my teaching license gives me more options in the future. I am now considering teaching when I graduate."

To learn more about ODU's unique teaching licensure program for STEM students, visit the MonarchTeach website.