by Terry Nagel
The EnCorps Teacher Initiative kicked off a campaign to help career-switching baby boomers from a dozen companies become math and science teachers.
The innovative program hopes to place 200 new teachers in California classrooms this September. Applications are due by March 14.
The public-private partnership, announced last June by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sherry Lansing, former chair of Paramount Pictures, is intended to help address the need for an estimated 33,000 math and science teachers in California over the next decade.
"We want to make the EnCorps Teachers program a model for the rest of the nation on how we can creatively work together and end the teacher shortage in California," Schwarzenegger said at the launch event. The governor touted the program in his recent State of the State address.
Nearly a dozen major companies are recruiting from among their employees nearing retirement and are providing subsidies of $15,000 to cover the costs of obtaining a teaching credential and other training and support.
For now, those selected for EnCorps (pronounced "encore") must work for one of the program's corporate partners, which include Amgen, Bank of America, Deloitte, IBM, Qualcomm, Roll International, Southern California Edison, Marcus & Millichap and Northrop Grumman. In future years, organizers plan to establish a fund to support EnCorps teaching fellows from unaffiliated companies.
EnCorps teachers will participate in a summer "Boot Camp" and mentoring program designed to speed them through the credentialing process. They will be placed as full-time paid intern teachers in public middle schools and high schools in or near San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego by September.
"EnCorps teachers have a rare gift: the ability to answer that age-old question 'When will I ever use math or science in the REAL world?'" said Lansing, who taught math to inner-city youths in the Watts section of Los Angeles before her 30-year career in the movie business.
She was inspired by IBM's Transitions to Teaching program, which was launched in 2005 in New York and North Carolina. Corporations were eager to sign up, she said.
"They see that they're training their future employees," she said. "They see that it's a civic responsibility. They see it as a way to treat their employees with dignity and respect. It's a win/win for everybody. And it's also tax deductible."
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