Washington, DC (NAPSI) - From President Obama to CEOs and governors, national leaders have been calling for improvements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education so the next generation will exceed the level of innovation, problem solving and technological advancement required in a globally competitive environment.

To that end, having exceptional teachers in the classroom to help students develop their critical thinking skills and inspire them to be excited about learning science is absolutely vital.

To strengthen and reform the education system, the National Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA)NewScienceTeacherAcademybelieves thatAmericaneeds to expand meaningful professional development opportunities for all science teachers. Opportunities to learn and grow throughout a teaching career can have a profound effect on the quality of the teaching force and the performance of students.

However, a study by the Universityof Pennsylvaniareports that early attrition from the teaching profession is a major (though often overlooked) factor behind shortages of mathematics and science teachers. The study, which can be seen at www.gse.upenn.edu/pdf/rmi/EL-May2012.pdf, concluded that differences in teacher training could be what encourages teachers to stay on the job. Those who got the most pedagogical training were the most likely to stay past the first year, it found.

Fortunately, many science teachers are getting the training and inspiration they need and improving their own abilities through NSTA’sNewScienceTeacherAcademy, now entering its seventh year of providing high- quality professional development and mentoring support to early-career science teachers.

The Academy, established to help reduce the high attrition rate in the science teaching profession, is a yearlong professional development program designed to help promote quality science teaching, enhance teacher confidence and classroom excellence, and improve teacher content knowledge. It’s sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company, the American Honda Foundation and the Bayer USA Foundation.

The Academy focuses on both content and pedagogy and provides science educators new to the teaching profession with the tools, resources and support needed to help them succeed in the classroom.

Participants enjoy top-notch face-to-face and online support and access to comprehensive educational resources.

The NSTA Fellows selected for the program receive a comprehensive membership package, online mentoring with trained mentors who teach in the same discipline, and the opportunity to participate in a variety of Web-based professional development activities, including Web seminars. In addition, each NSTA Fellow receives financial support to attend and participate in NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education.

Science teachers throughout the country who will be entering their second through fifth year of teaching and who teach mostly middle or high school science can apply to become an NSTA Fellow.

Learn More

For more information about the NSTA New Science Teacher Academy or to apply, visit www.nsta.org/academy before August 1, 2013.