By Jefferson Huddle
This year, 2023, marks the ten-year anniversary of MonarchTeach at Old Dominion University. MonarchTeach is a unique collaboration between the Darden College of Education & Professional Studies and the College of Sciences at ODU. Since 2013, students majoring in mathematics or science have been able to receive teacher licensure while still earning their degree in their content area. Across the country, there have been teacher shortages, but ODU has stayed at the forefront in keeping classrooms filled through the MonarchTeach program.
ODU has produced 75 teachers who were ready to work at schools across Hampton Roads in math and science classes for more than a decade. Through this innovative teacher preparation program, benefits include:
- A degree in Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, Ocean & Earth Sciences, or Computer Science along with a teacher licensure in four years.
- Guidance and support from highly qualified Master Teachers with extensive secondary school teaching experience.
- Opportunities to get scholarships and paid internships.
- Continued support in their classrooms after graduation.
Anastashia Pelletier, a senior at ODU majoring in mathematics with a concentration in education, has been involved with MonarchTeach for three years and “loves every part of it.” Through MonarchTeach, Pelletier has been able to develop a teaching method which she and her students find extremely useful.
“I love having the students tell me what’s going on. Getting them to spearhead the conversation versus me being there saying, ‘This should be this and that should be that’.” Pelletier says her teaching methods take great inspiration from the “5E Instructional Model,” which stands for: Engage, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation.
Students involved in MonarchTeach are given the opportunity to have multiple authentic teaching experiences added to their resume before they graduate. Students gain experience teaching at elementary, middle, and high schools across the Tidewater Area.
Many students, like Pelletier, have gained essential experience from all three levels of education. Pelletier knew she wanted to teach high school students before joining MonarchTeach but says her experience in elementary and junior high classrooms only helped her more. For students set on which grade they’d prefer to teach, or haven’t a clue, the experience in all three environments is just as important and useful.
ODU and MonarchTeach alumnus Miranda Blaser is a Mathematics teacher at a Virginia Beach Public School. “I teach Geometry and Probability/Statistics and Trigonometry at Ocean Lakes High School, and MonarchTeach prepared me to teach as I was able to start building connections with my peers,” said Blaser. “I also learned how to create rewarding lessons that still meet standards but also leave the students with enriched knowledge.”
This unique program has provided opportunities for current and alumni Monarchs to be able to teach on any level and have the confidence to do their job well.
Ashley Barton, an ODU and MonarchTeach alumnus teaches Algebra and Geometry and Colonel Fred Cherry Middle School in Suffolk and is thankful for this unique program. “The MonarchTeach program gave me first-hand experience in the classroom. It gave me a glimpse into what teacher life was like, how to write and prepare lessons, and some tips and tricks on classroom management. Without MonarchTeach I would not have been prepared to step into a classroom as at teacher.”
Lauren Bowers, Ph.D. is the MonarchTeach Program Coordinator at ODU and raves about this teacher preparation program. “Across the nation and in our own backyard, there are critical teacher shortages. Both math and science are noted in Virginia’s 2023-2024 critical shortage teaching endorsement areas. MonarchTeach aims to bridge this gap through preparing and sustaining math and science teachers that create secondary STEM classrooms that are both engaging and applicable to all students.
Internships and scholarships are also a significant part of MonarchTeach. Opportunities are open to students at organizations such as: Nauticus, Horizons Hampton Roads, Virginia Aquarium, Lynnhaven River NOW, Virginia Zoo, NASA/Virginia Space Grant Consortium, and Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation.
Additionally, MonarchTeach currently has scholarship opportunities for students interested in teaching secondary math and science. The GEMS scholarships are funded by the National Science Foundation, and they aim to serve the national need of preparing STEM educators to be high qualified teachers in high needs schools. It offers paid internships, full tuition scholarships for juniors and seniors with a commitment to a high needs school, and culturally relevant pedagogy seminars.
ODU through MonarchTeach have partnered with schools in the following districts on both the southside and the peninsula:
- Chesapeake Public Schools
- Hampton City Schools
- Newport News Public Schools
- Norfolk Public Schools
- Portsmouth Public Schools
- Suffolk Public Schools
- Virginia Beach City Public Schools
If you have any questions or are interested in MonarchTeach, please contact the program coordinator at email@example.com for more information.