GSKyTeach program sends participants to Louisville schools

Hannah Bushon

The first group of participants in Graduate Southern Kentucky Teach, a WKU teacher residency program, has been sent to Louisville to work in math and science programs at select high schools there.

GSKyTeach, a partnership between WKU and Jefferson County Public Schools, accepted its first class of 15 graduate students this summer, Program Director Vicki Metzgar said.

The students went through a six-week session, consisting of both graduate classes and teaching experience.

Barren River Imaginative Museum of Science, along with Bowling Green Independent Schools, helped the students teach “Fantastic Fridays,” a day camp, she said. The GSKyTeach participants taught math, physics and chemistry to children.

This year, GSKyTeach students were sent to Louisville and were placed in high schools in the county with the greatest need for math, chemistry or physics teachers, Metzgar said.

Participants are teaching Monday through Thursday and take master’s degree classes on Fridays through WKU, she said.

GSKyTeach participants work under the guidance of mentor and master teachers, according to the program’s website.

Metzgar said that this year the teachers will earn their master’s degrees, and will most likely be offered jobs within JCPS.

The teacher residents are earning about $30,000 with benefits, Metzgar said.

Participants are a part of the program free of tuition, Metzgar said. But upon graduation, they are “indebted” to the program, and must teach under GSKyTeach for a minimum of three years.

Roger Pankratz, project executive director for GSKyTeach, said that upon receiving federal funding for the program, WKU reached out to nearby school systems, eventually partnering with JCPS, partly because of the urban setting.

JCPS expressed a need for math, physics and chemistry teachers, and WKU built a program around that.

Pankratz also said the Obama administration, which has recently been pushing science, technology, math and related subjects, was an influence on the direction of the program.

Pankratz said the program accepted five math majors, five chemistry majors, and five physics majors for the pilot year of the residency program, and the program would be successful because residency programs are intense and effective.