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New Master’s Program Aimed at Teaching Shortage

Published: February 02, 2006

A Master of Arts in Teaching program approved this week offers expert training along with incentives to keep teachers in Hillsborough County, alleviating critical shortages. The ambitious program will place the first team of apprentice teachers in county classrooms this fall.  


From the start of their classroom experience, apprentices will earn first-year teacher salaries and benefits. They also will be eligible to apply for tuition reimbursement and student loan forgiveness, both Florida Department of Education incentive programs intended to increase the size and quality of the state’s public school teaching pool.


Last month, Gov. Bush announced a $239-million statewide initiative to recruit 31,800 new teachers for Florida’s public schools.


UT’s program features an aggressive mix of theory and practical training in an unprecedented collaboration between UT faculty and school district professionals.  The aim of the accelerated 13-month program is to train recent liberal arts graduates and “outstanding professionals” with science and mathematics backgrounds to become top-notch educators in middle and high schools.  Math and science are critical teacher shortage areas locally and in much of the nation.


Dr. Martha Harrison, assistant professor of education and director of the MAT program, said the difference between UT’s MAT and more typical certification programs is profound.


“We don’t just prepare teachers for certification,” Harrison said.  “We graduate candidates from a quality program in which they work with a triad of mentorship and supervision comprised of a combination of UT faculty and school district peer coaches.”


While the primary goal is to help public schools in Hillsborough County and Florida, the program is designed to give its graduates regional flexibility, Harrison said, noting that program graduates will be eligible for teaching licenses in 43 states.


The program’s practical component launches students into middle and high school classroom experience in their first full semester after an intensive—some would say grueling—15-credit-hour summer primer on human development, classroom management, school ethics, safety and law, instructional methods, and mastering the art of teaching.  In the initial summer term, students will attend classes 9-1/2 hours a day, four days a week.


“It’s exciting working with the high school and middle school math and science teachers,” Harrison said. “We’re building a program and a curriculum based on what they need out there in the schools, so we’re closing that divide between the academics in the ivory tower and the practitioners and professionals in the schools.”


For more information, see or contact Harrison at or (813) 253-3333, x 3373.