NORMAL, Ala. (WHNT) – One degree, two career paths. That’s the idea behind Alabama A&M’s new program, AAMUTeach. The program looks to prepare its graduates to teach STEM subjects in secondary schools.

Alabama A&M celebrated the launch of the AAMUTeach Program Wednesday afternoon. It’s a program that’ll combine subject matter preparation with secondary teaching certification without adding any extra time or cost to four-year degrees.

UTeach is a renowned university-based STEM teacher preparation program founded at The University of Texas at Austin. With the introduction of AAMUTeach, Alabama A&M joins more than 50 universities across the nation and only three other Historically Black Universities (Norfolk State, Virginia State, and Prairie View A&M) that have implemented the UTeach model.

“Many students have a passion to teach. Once they are in our program, we have the support for them financially, academically, and socially. We’re going to provide them with what they need to see what their real calling is,” said AAMUTeach Education Co-Director Dr. Vernessa Edwards.

Dr. Edwards says Alabama A&M leads the state in producing minority stem graduates. She’s hoping this program will help to address the state’s educator shortage.

“Our Alabama schools right now are short…1500 teacher shortage currently…we’re going to bridge that gap. We’re going to fill that gap,” added Edwards. 

Six universities were selected to launch programs this year through over $14 million in Alabama STEM Council grant funding. A $2 million grant from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education will create AAMUTeach.

Alabama STEM councilmember Lawrence Cooper says he’s looking forward to how the program at A&M will impact students.

“They’re already producing outstanding STEM graduates. Let’s get them exposed to education and, hopefully, have them go into Alabama’s education workforce. A&M is part of a group of universities really taking the lead in getting STEM, not just the UTeach Program, but STEM education a leg up here for our state,” said Cooper. 

Collectively, the university-based Alabama UTeach programs are expected to produce up to 530 STEM teachers for the state during the grant period. Up to 100 students will form the first cohort of AAMUTeach in August.