Davenport University Designs Degree to Tackle Urban Teacher Shortage

Davenport University in Grand Rapids has launched a new specialty degree program, a bachelor of science in urban STEM education, to develop elementary and secondary teachers with expertise in K-12 STEM instruction and culturally responsive teaching methods.
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Davenport University has launched a new specialty degree program focusing on urban STEM education. // Courtesy of Davenport University
Davenport University has launched a new specialty degree program focusing on urban STEM education. // Courtesy of Davenport University

Davenport University in Grand Rapids has launched a new specialty degree program, a bachelor of science in urban STEM education, to develop elementary and secondary teachers with expertise in K-12 STEM instruction and culturally responsive teaching methods.

Two degrees will be offered: An Elementary BS degree with an optional concentration in integrated science, and a Secondary BS degree with concentrations in biology, chemistry, math, physics, or integrated science.

“We’re seeing teachers and administrators continually challenged with access to adequate resources to support students in urban schools,” says Richard Pappas, president of Davenport University. “Davenport’s College of Urban Education curriculum is designed to address these challenges. In addition, with our master’s degree programs, we’ve seen measurable success in academic performance in the classroom and overall teacher retention rates. It’s time we shared these learnings with those seeking bachelor’s certification.”

Culturally responsive teaching is especially important in high needs, underserved urban school districts where teachers must be well equipped to understand and address the socio-economic challenges their students face daily.

Teachers often encounter students experiencing educational barriers due to a lack of basic needs, such as sleep, nutrition, security, and belonging. It’s critical that these teachers have a foundational understanding of how to fully connect with their students no matter their background and teach them effectively.

“We’ve found that integrating students’ cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and providing a frame of reference makes learning encounters more relevant and effective,” says Pappas. “It’s essential we help teachers develop the unique skills needed to serve within urban skills and equip them to meet students where they are and help them succeed academically.”

The faculty and staff of Davenport’s urban education department are committed to preparing aspiring educators to bring equity, creativity, and opportunity to increasingly diverse communities. This is done through an aggressive, robust weekly mentoring and coaching program with 1-on-1 data-informed feedback starting in the first year of the program.

Flexible class schedules include real-time virtual online education courses combined with in-person STEM courses offered across campuses in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing.

While Davenport’s education program focuses heavily on teaching in large, urban areas with diverse populations, the knowledge and skills students acquire through these programs can be applied to all primary and secondary educational settings.

“The teacher shortages Michigan is facing are critical,” says Pappas. “We believe that the long-term success of our economy rests on the success of Michigan’s youth and the teachers that are helping them achieve their greatest potential.”

To apply for or to view the curriculum, visit here.

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