We love it when we have the chance to point to a stand-out educator. And this
warms our hearts a little more than usual by reminding us just how precious great teachers who can teach advanced STEM subjects are.
Ms. Albert, who taught math for 44 years in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, made a Michael Jordan-like comeback from retirement this year so that students at her school could take Calc 2. You see, she's the only one her district could find to teach this advanced math course.
What will happen next? Hopefully the district will find someone to fill her shoes, though we won't hold our breaths. Even in a city with a national nuclear laboratory, it's unlikely that many qualified Calc 2 teachers will come out of the woodwork given the current state of math teacher training.
Ms. Albert can only be a temporary solution for Oak Ridge High. The district and the country as a whole are going to have to put a lot more effort into recruiting and retaining STEM teachers. The school board might want to consider paying higher salaries to teachers with Ms. Albert's skills and knowledge. And more teacher preparation programs should take a page out of the book of University of Texas at Austin's UTeach program to ramp up the training of qualified STEM teachers.