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Shaping the Next Generation of STEM Educators: An Interview with SHU’s STEM Education Director

April 24, 2020

It’s clear that science, technology, and the other STEM fields play an increasingly significant role in our modern society. As technology becomes more commonplace in classrooms and is integrated into everyday student learning, teachers need to be prepared with the tools and knowledge to make the best use of these resources. 

Bonnie Maur, STEM Director for the Farrington College of Education, has been in the field of education for 35 years and is passionate about impacting lives through education. We sat down with her to find out what makes SHU’s teacher preparation degree unique and how she sees the field evolving in the future — read on to hear what she had to say! 

Download SHU's Guide to Earning Your Master of Arts in Teaching and CT Teacher  Certification to get started on your teaching career today!

Maur_Bonnie_500x500What graduate program and courses do you teach at SHU?

The teacher preparation program is based in theory and hands-on experience as it relates to the practice of pre-service educators. It is designed to enable candidates to move forward in their quest to become exceptional educators and transformational leaders. I teach the following STEM courses: (ED 556) Elementary Methods of Science, (ED 511) Secondary Curriculum in Biology, (ED 534) Secondary Methods in Biology, (ED 581) Student Teaching Biology.

How long have you been in the field of teaching? Why are you passionate about this field?

I have been in the field of education for 35 years. My passion for teaching started with my love of children and has developed into one that seeks to impact lives, as I truly believe that education is the great equalizer. Working with pre-service and in-service educators allows me to touch education in a different way. I assist others in finding their passion as well as preparing them to best impact the lives of their future students. 

What’s unique about SHU’s MAT with Initial Teacher Certification program?

The SHU MAT with Initial Teacher Certification program has some unique features including the ability to work with professors and build upon their experience and research in teaching and learning in a variety of subjects including science, technology, engineering, math, literacy, social studies, and Spanish as well as the basic tenets of education. 

Many of the courses in the program incorporate valuable field experiences whereby students have an opportunity to relate theory to practice on a regular basis. One exciting aspect of the SHU teacher preparation program is the ability to cross endorse in computer science. Additionally, scholarship opportunities, such as the Noyce Scholars program, exist in order to assist candidates with the financial obligations related to their education. 

How does SHU’s program help prepare graduates to succeed as teachers?

SHU's program helps prepare graduates to succeed as teachers by not only teaching the theory behind education but also giving candidates the opportunity to work in regional school districts with mentors and students throughout the program. This experience allows future educators to develop their style as they learn from experienced, successful professors and mentors throughout their pre-service preparation.

What changes do you see happening in the field of teaching? 

The growth of STE(A)M is a relatively new, yet critical, component of education. Additionally allowing learners to take charge of their own learning, utilize the power of technology, and derive meaning from their own learning is now an every day critical component of education. I incorporate this type of active learning in my classes as candidates process how to develop their own style of teaching in preparation to become the best educator they can be.

Tell me about your research interests and achievements.

My research and grant writing falls within the area of STE(A)M. My achievements include the writing and securing of approximately $9 million in grant money to be utilized for the preparation of educators in the area of STEM, the professional development of in-service educators, the development of curriculum for the state of CT and nationally for educators' utilization while using the Next Generation Science Standards, and research in implementing the best practices within these areas. 

What advice do you have for prospective students thinking about enrolling in the MAT program?

You will take away as much from this program as you are willing to put into it. Come prepared to actively participate, grow your passion, ask lots of questions, observe constantly, network, clean up your social media, stay organized, become a lifelong learner, and be flexible so you don't get bent out of shape!

Is there anything else you’d like to add or any advice you’d like to give to a prospective student?

Reflection is the mark of a good teacher. Reflect on all you try and keep records of things you've done in classrooms. We all think we'll never forget our successes, the great ideas we come up with and the things you want to do differently the next time around. However, it's easier to forget than you think. So keep notes and records of things you've tried and how they've gone. 

Observe as many classrooms as you can. Everyone has their own style. You can see the same lesson taught by five different teachers in five different ways and you will learn something different from each teachers' style. You will take some ideas and reject others, but you ultimately incorporate things you've learned to help you develop your own style. So be a sponge and soak it all up!

Get started on your MAT today!

If you want to pursue a career in teaching, a Master of Arts in Teaching with an initial teacher certification is the best way to enter the classroom fully equipped to have the greatest impact on your students. Sacred Heart University is excited to offer this research-validated, advanced degree that is backed by expert faculty, and built on clinical experiences. To learn more about this degree, we invite you to download our comprehensive guide. Or if you have specific questions, feel free to reach out to one of our graduate admissions counselors. We look forward to speaking with you soon! 

Jump-start your teaching career by downloading our resource — How to Become an Educator in CT: Earning Your Master Of Arts In Teaching And CT Teacher Certification. 

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SHU Graduate Admissions Team

About the Author

We are the graduate admissions team at Sacred Heart University. We aspire to create a welcoming and supportive environment for students looking to continue their education while empowering them in mind, body and spirit. We hope you find our resources helpful and informative as you explore and pursue a graduate degree at Sacred Heart!

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