An historic milestone" in the evolution of MIT's K-12 agenda, the Joseph B. (1954) and Rita P. Scheller Career Development Professorship in Teacher Education has been established in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Eric Klopfer, director of MIT's Teacher Education Program, is the holder of the new professorship.
"The issue of how to provide good K-12 education is a key element of our departmental effort to enhance the quality of urban life in American cities," said Bishwapriya Sanyal, department head and professor of uban planning. "The new Scheller chair helps us emphasize that goal with concrete commitments. We are most grateful to the Scheller family for this support. Their gift sends the right signal to the world that MIT cares deeply for the Teacher Education Program."
Joseph Scheller is a retired CEO of the Silberline Manufacturing Co. of Tamaqua, PA. "The establishment of this endowed professorship is symbolic of both the Schellers' concern for the quality of the educational experience that is made available to teachers in the United States and MIT's institutional commitment to make it possible for some of the best and brightest students in this country to become prepared to teach in the K-12 systems," said Professor Ronald M. Latanision of materials science and engineering, the chairman of the MIT Council on Primary and Secondary Education.
Through the Teacher Education Program, MIT students can graduate with an advanced provisional teaching certificate that allows them to teach at the K-12 level for five years. In fall 2001, the 35 TEP students from 16 departments represented the largest enrollment in the program's history. In addition, Klopfer uses the program StarLogo developed by Professor Mitchel Resnick of the Media Lab to help teachers develop computer simulations to spark interest in science in their classrooms.
Klopfer has a B.S. in biology from Cornell and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught full time in the Amherst Regional High School and prior to his MIT appointment served as a lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts. He has studied the impact of computer systems on student learning in science, math and language arts. His current research focuses on the use of educational technology in science education and he is particularly interested in computer simulation as a tool in science education.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 13, 2002.