UCI Cal Teach “gets math and science majors excited about … creating rich learning environments for middle and high school students,” says Sue Marshall of the four-year teacher prep program she directs. Nicole Del Castillo / University Communications 

Training tomorrow’s teachers

Lauds & Laurels staff honoree helps address shortage in math, science educators.

Due to baby-boomer retirement, attrition and compliance with federal mandates, California is projected to need 33,000 new math and science teachers over the next decade. UC Irvine’s Sue Marshall intends to provide as many as she can. The co-director of UCI Cal Teach, she encourages math and science majors to concurrently earn a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential through the four-year teacher preparation program.

“University of California math and science undergraduates don’t always think of teaching as a career option,” says Marshall, who taught elementary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District before obtaining a doctorate in educational psychology from UCLA. “The Cal Teach program gets math and science majors excited about the profession and the possibilities of creating rich learning environments for middle and high school students.”

Marshall juggles many roles at UCI, including director of undergraduate programs in the Department of Education and co-creator and administrator of the certificate in after-school education. Her work also spans the School of Physical Sciences and the School of Biological Sciences – and she recently added a 2012 Lauds & Laurels Staff Achievement Award to her resume.

“Dr. Marshall exemplifies excellence and innovation in higher education,” says Deborah Vandell, professor and chair of education. “She was instrumental in pioneering cross-discipline collaboration between science and education and creating new models of teacher preparation and undergraduate instruction.”

A desire to foster innovation in the classroom has defined Marshall’s career path. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research focused on the design of technology-enhanced learning environments for science students. She came to UCI in 2000 as a research scientist and project manager on a U.S. Department of Education-funded effort to improve teacher trainees’ performance through technological support.

In 2007, UCI was one of 13 universities in the nation awarded $1.4 million by the National Math & Science Initiative to develop dual bachelor’s degree and single-subject teaching credential programs modeled after UTeach at the University of Texas at Austin.

Next month, Marshall will oversee the graduation of the first UCI Cal Teach cohort – eight students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in math, biology, chemistry, physics or Earth & environmental sciences/studies along with a California teaching credential. She expects the program to eventually produce 60 or more credentialed math and science teachers per year.

“Thanks to our experienced faculty and mentor teachers, Cal Teach graduates are well prepared to teach in California’s diverse schools,” Marshall says. “We look forward to next spring, when 23 additional graduates will embark on teaching careers.”