Helios STEM Program

USF College of Education receives $430,000 to help transform middle school STEM teacher preparation.


By Kim Tucker

Special to USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 20, 2011) - The Helios Education Foundation has funded a $430,000 planning grant to support the development of a new teacher education program for STEM (science, technology, engineering, & mathematics) middle school teachers at the University of South Florida College of Education (COEDU). 


This program will be collaboratively developed among the USF COEDU and College of Arts and Sciences, Hillsborough County Public Schools, and the Helios Education Foundation.


This evidence-based program will focus on the development of content and pedagogical knowledgeable middle school teachers (grades 5 – 9) who can support mathematics or science learning in an area of weakness in the STEM education enterprise. The program will link to practice in the field, by including a yearlong residency program. It will provide ongoing professional development for clinical faculty, cooperating teachers, and residents and will support clinical faculty members who are jointly appointed to both USF and school districts, dependent on the continuous assessment of program and teacher effectiveness.


Gladis Kersaint, professor of mathematics education and interim director of the David C. Anchin Center and associate dean for research, will serve as principle investigator on this grant.


“I am excited by this grant opportunity because it builds upon our existing partnerships with Hillsborough County schools and engages us in the collaborative development of a new teacher education program that will specifically target the preparation of middle school mathematics and science teachers,” said Kersaint. “The goal is to support prospective teachers as they participate in a well-coordinated yearlong residency program that links theory with practice so that they are prepared to enter the field ready to affect student achievement in STEM areas.”


This program addresses the call to prepare effective teachers for the 21st century classroom by engaging them in a research-based teacher education program that involves field-based clinical training supported by skilled practitioners. Graduates of this program will enter the field prepared to teach STEM courses, thereby enhancing teacher retention and student learning. Program effectiveness will be determined by examining teacher effectiveness and student learning and how the program components contribute to the development of effective teachers. The overall goal is to develop a model for teacher preparation that can be adopted by other COEDU programs and serve as a model for teacher education programs nationwide.


About Helios Education Foundation

Helios Education Foundation is the largest organization serving Arizona and Florida focused solely on education. The Foundation is focused on changing lives through education, and is dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals and families in both states by creating opportunities for postsecondary education success. The Foundation’s community investments are made across three impact areas: Early Childhood Education, the Transition Years (Grades 5-12) and Postsecondary Scholarships, and since 2006, Helios has invested over $100 million in education-related programs and initiatives in Arizona and Florida. For more information about Helios Education Foundation, visit www.helios.org.  


Kim Tucker can be reached at 813-974-7440.