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Museum First To Offer Master of Arts in Teaching for Science

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The New York State Department of Education has selected the American Museum of Natural History to launch a pioneering Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program this fall.

“The Museum is proud to be the first museum in the United States to offer a master’s degree program to prepare science teachers,” said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. “The Museum’s new Master of Arts in Teaching program extends the Museum’s formal roles both in improving the teaching of science and addressing the national crisis in science education, and will be an important new component of the Museum’s longstanding graduate training, including, most notably, the Richard Gilder Graduate School, the only museum-based Ph.D.-granting program in the country.”

Drawing on the Museum’s unique resources and long history in teacher professional development, the 15-month MAT program is being launched as part of a specialized pilot program to help address a critical shortage of qualified science teachers in New York State, particularly in high-needs schools, by offering coursework with a specialization in Earth science for teachers of grades 7 through 12. The MAT program, which is supported by funding provided in part by the New York State Education Department and the National Science Foundation, will model and test new approaches that can be replicated across New York State and nationally.

The Museum  will conduct the program in partnership with six schools—Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers in Manhattan; the Queens Vocational and Technical High School in Queens; the Thomas C. Giordano Middle School in the Bronx; Roosevelt High School and Gorton High School in Yonkers; and Freeport High School in Freeport, Long Island—with diverse student populations that include English Language Learners and students with special needs. Candidates in the MAT program will spend a full academic year in a partner school and will receive mentoring from experienced science teachers. In a feature unique to the Museum’s program, degree candidates will also spend two summers paired with Museum scientists and educators, one summer in programs for youth and one summer in a science practicum residency.

In addition, alumni of the Museum’s program will be offered a  two-year, early-career professional development program, a critical  element of support for new teachers entering the classroom that directly addresses the high rates of attrition among new teachers and the specific challenges of teaching in high-needs schools.

The Museum will begin the planning process for the new MAT program this fall, with the first class of teachers slated to begin coursework next summer.

The new MAT program continues to build on the Museum’s work in post-secondary education. In 2006, the Museum became the first museum in the Western Hemisphere to grant the Ph.D. through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, which offers a doctoral program in comparative biology.