Big hearts shaping great minds

Friday, October 14, 2022

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

Research shows what we have long known: teachers make all the difference! In fact, teacher effectiveness is the single most important factor affecting students' academic growth. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. One study found that students who had been taught by three highly effective teachers in a row scored above the 80th percentile in mathematics, while those taught by ineffective teachers scored below the 50th percentile in the subject by the end of the third year! Nothing else mattered nearly as much – not class size, not economics, not other similar factors.

I have written before about my own experiences with remarkable teachers and know that all of us can reflect and identify the teachers who deeply influenced our thinking and our approach. Not only to schoolwork, but also to life and its challenges. They inspired us, supported us and pushed us to excel. I have written in the past about my fifth-grade math teacher who started every class by telling a mystery story to focus our attention before she started the day’s lesson. I have also highlighted and thanked my teachers who helped me realize that small setbacks are no reason to despair.

To emphasize STEM teacher education and comply with our Kummer mandate of “broad STEM outreach,” we reorganized our former College of Arts, Sciences, and Business (CASB) to the College of Art, Sciences, and Education (CASE) as our business programs moved to the new Kummer College of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development. Here are some present realities that propelled us to place a high emphasis on STEM teacher education and training at S&T:

  • Nationwide, 44% of school districts reported vacancies last spring, and teachers suffer from burnout more than any other segment of the workforce.
  • The National Education Association recently estimated a shortage of 300,000 teachers.
  • More than half of school districts across the country report they struggle to recruit and retain qualified STEM teachers.
  • One popular Missouri education job search website recently had 284 teaching positions posted, with the start date for most listed as “immediately.” This means students are in classes with no qualified teacher, and there are fewer schools where education students can observe or practice teaching with an experienced mentor.
  • As a result of these and similar national STEM teacher shortages, five of our student teachers this fall have their own classrooms with full-time contracts, a practice that was rare as recently as three years ago. 
  • Four of the five S&T student teachers with full-time contracts are women, and they are influencing the next generation of high school students to pursue STEM career paths. This helps widen the pathway to STEM careers for women, as research shows that female students are more likely to major in STEM if they attend a high school with a higher proportion of women math and science teachers. The S&T teacher education program enrollment is over 60% women.

Missouri S&T is working with five local high schools to pilot our first education course as dual enrollment using grant funding from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. High school students log on to Zoom to participate online with S&T teacher education faculty. Since students don’t have to travel to S&T, they can participate from anywhere. This innovative model allows small rural districts to participate even if they have only one interested student that year.  

Furthermore, S&T is home to the South Central Regional Professional Development Center, which provides dozens of workshops for teachers in 63 school districts across 13 counties. The center’s offerings include the “Number Talks” series of workshops designed to help students become mathematical thinkers. The team also works closely with our teacher education and certification department and the Kummer Center for STEM Education to further advance our mandate to have broad STEM outreach – not only among students, but among teachers as well.

To thank our teachers for their sacrifices, to celebrate last week’s World Teachers’ Day, and to salute Fred and June Kummer for their recognition and support of the need, we pause to appreciate our teachers for their big, generous hearts to shape our great minds of the future. In particular, I say thank you to all our education faculty, students and staff not just for what they have achieved in establishing our teacher education and certification program, but also for their dedication to address a significant national need. 



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
Chancellor | 573-341-4116

206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910