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A&M-Commerce Elevates Status as Leader in Physics Teacher Education

A&M-Commerce Elevates Status as Leader in Physics Teacher Education
COMMERCE, Texas—The Texas A&M University-Commerce Department of Physics and Astronomy recently received additional funding from the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) to lead the creation of a PhysTEC regional network for the state of Texas. A&M-Commerce is the lead institution in the initiative, collaborating with Texas State University, the University of Houston and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. PhysTEC is a partnership between the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The organization consists of more than 300 institutions dedicated to addressing the shortage of first-class high school physics teachers by improving and promoting physics teacher education. Last year, PhysTEC awarded a $288,397 comprehensive site grant to A&M-Commerce faculty members, Drs. Robynne Lock, William Newton and Melanie Fields. Physics teacher education programs at PhysTEC comprehensive sites serve as models for programs around the country. The funding allowed Lock, Newton and Fields to focus on recruiting and mentoring future physics teachers. They hired Clay Stanfield to be the program’s teacher-in-residence. As an experienced high school physics teacher, Stanfield works closely with the project team and future teachers. In addition to preparing physics teachers through the bachelor’s degree program, the team integrated teaching certification into the existing master’s degree program. “The grant is helping us improve the quality of physics education in Northeast Texas,” said Lock. “The lessons we’re learning will benefit physics teacher preparation programs across the country.” Dr. William Newton, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said the new $15,000 grant will elevate the status of A&M-Commerce as a regional and national leader in physics education. He said the funding would not have been possible without the support of Dr. Melanie Fields, assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Fields teaches courses for LeoTEACH, a collaborative initiative between the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Science and Engineering, to recruit and educate secondary teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “Without their excellence, we wouldn’t stand a chance to get this funding,” Newton said. “The strong relationship between our STEM departments and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction through LeoTEACH has proven to be a big advantage over other institutions.” According to Dr. Kimberly McLeod, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, leading the initiative is a huge step toward creating equity, access and excitement for STEM fields throughout Texas. “I’m extremely hopeful in encouraging girls and youth from underrepresented demographic groups to benefit from this pathway to physics,” said McLeod. “I’m elated that A&M-Commerce is building this bridge for regional communities.” Assistant Dean of the college, Dr. Juan Araujo, agrees. “It is amazing what our faculty can accomplish when we work together to meet needs across the state,” Araujo said. “The addition of this network will go a long way toward building a cache of physics teachers in Texas.” Learn more about PhysTEC. _____________###   About Texas A&M University-Commerce–A&M-Commerce serves rural and metropolitan East Texas with distinction, consistently delivering on a promise that our founder, Professor William Leonidas Mayo, made more than a century ago: “No industrious, ambitious youth shall be denied an education if I can prevent it.” We are committed to our university’s mission: Educate. Discover. Achieve. 

Programs are delivered on site at the Commerce campus as well as in Corsicana, Dallas, McKinney, Frisco and Mesquite. Many courses are also available online. Students may choose from more than 135 degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. A vibrant student life experience includes 14 NCAA Division II athletic teams, a thriving Greek system and more than 120 student organizations.    Contact: Michael Johnson
Executive Director of Marketing and Communications  903.886.5128 [email protected]   About The Texas A&M University System–The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation with a budget of $6.3 billion. The System is a statewide network of 11 universities; a comprehensive health science center; eight state agencies, including the Texas Division of Emergency Management; and the RELLIS Campus. The Texas A&M System educates more than 151,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $1 billion in FY 2019 and helped drive the state’s economy.   Contact: Laylan Copelin Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications (979) 458-6425 (512) 289-2782 cell [email protected]
A&M Commerce Physics Group 2020
A&M Commerce Physics Group 2020

Author: Matt Janson

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