UF received a $2 million grant to develop a pilot program aimed at strengthening math and science teachers in Florida middle and high schools.

The Florida Department of Education awarded the grant to increase the retention rate of these teachers while also providing assistance with teaching strategies in Miami-Dade, Duval and Palm Beach counties.

Griffith Jones, a UF clinical associate professor in science education, said 30 percent of teachers leave in the first five years. The program hopes to help teachers go from being novices to experts in that span.

Jones said students will also benefit because teachers will receive “expert mentorship” in math and science.

“There is a strong consensus that the teacher matters more than any factor for students to learn and succeed,” he said.

Economics sophomore Jimmy Dreyer, 19, said teachers engage students so they can get the best out of their education.

“If teachers can instill a sense of passion or desire for a certain subject, it can really make a difference in the kid’s life and a difference in the world overall,” he said.

The program will coordinate with the newly created Florida STEM-Teacher Induction and Professional Support Center created by UF. The center’s faculty will supervise teachers and provide professional development and networking opportunities.

“It is nice being involved in giving back to the greatest profession in the world — teaching,” Jones said.

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