The San Antonio Mathematics and Science Education Coalition (SAMSEC) represents a best practice in Bexar County education.

Its volunteer group of educators, business and community leaders implement and influences city-wide efforts to recruit, certify, and retain science and mathematics teachers for San Antonio schools. The focus of SAMSEC is to unify mathematics and science support and promote a stronger foundation of mathematics and science skills in the community.

SAMSEC –Why It’s Important
San Antonio schools need more mathematics and science teachers to help prepare the workforce of tomorrow. Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are important to the future economic growth of our community and to the nation, as a whole. As the United States increasingly becomes a service economy, STEM fields hold the potential for our next major technological breakthrough — which could create many, new jobs. These fields help us maintain our technological edge across the United States and around the world.

SAMSEC Best Practice Initiatives
Working in support of other area mathematics-science partnerships, SAMSEC pursues its goals through several initiatives:

Teacher of the Year Awards
Through its Mayoral and County Judge Award, SAMSEC proudly honors the accomplishments of San Antonio’s Pre-K through 12 mathematics and science teachers within their first five years of teaching. Annually, a total of twelve cash awards, each for $1,000, are made to teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. The intent of the awards is to focus the community’s attention on the importance of this work, and to encourage teachers to continue in the profession.

Educational Degree and Teaching Certification Guidance
At its website, SAMSEC links prospective teachers to area colleges and universities where they may begin their career in education. For those with undergraduate or Master’s degrees, the site provides a path toward mathematics or science teacher certification. It also links those with undergraduate degrees to schools where they may seek a Master’s Degree and a mathematics or science teacher certification.

Tuition Assistance
The SAMSEC website provides scholarship and loan information for teachers and future teachers through a wide variety of programs including the University of Texas’ GE2MS Teaching Program, the Troops to Teachers organization, GI Bill Benefits, the College Access Loan (CAL) program, and Texas Workforce Commission Workforce Investment Act (WIA) loans.

Professional Development
SAMSEC links teachers of mathematics and science to a number of professional development opportunities, including those offered by the Texas Educational Service Center (ESC Region 20), the Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching (CAMT), the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST), and the Texas Regional Collaborative (TRC) for Mathematics and Science.

Community Problem Solving Challenges
To encourage students’ abilities to reason and solve mathematics and science problems, SAMSEC provides quarterly online problem solving challenges based upon interesting and common situations. Problem solving challenges have included issues related to water supply, nutrition, greenhouse gas emissions, and hurricanes. With each challenge, school districts are invited to submit their students’ work for which recognition certificates are awarded, and selected pieces are displayed at public venues.

Job Listings
SAMSEC links teachers from its website to a variety of mathematics and science teaching positions available in the San Antonio area.

What It Costs:
The work of SAMSEC is largely that of a group of volunteer educators, business and community leaders, intent on recruiting, retaining, and renewing mathematics and science teachers for San Antonio area schools.

Because of this, costs are minimal, centered largely around its annual Mayoral and County Judge Awards. Sponsored by SAMSEC participants, the awards recognize outstanding mathematics and science teachers within the first few years of their teaching careers. The intent of the Awards is to focus the community’s attention on the importance of this work, and to encourage teachers to continue in the profession.

SAMSEC Annual Budget
Expenses:
Teacher Awards –
• Prizes – 12 awards @ $1,000 each = $12,000
• Trophies, invitations, etc. = $850

Miscellaneous SAMSEC expenses throughout the year – $500

Income:
• Lockheed-Martin and H-E-B – $13,000

What You Can Do To Help:
There are a number of things you might consider to help SAMSEC with its mission:

Scholarships during student teaching semester
The most difficult semester for an undergraduate teacher candidate is the student teaching semester. Due to the structured workload, students are not able to continue with part-time jobs to cover their living expenses or tuition costs. Scholarships given to local universities specifically to support mathematics and science student teachers provide much-needed assistance during the last semester before entering the public school classroom.

Lunches and tours of area business organizations
As a local business or organization, you can provide specific examples and a context for mathematics and science teachers to help them answer students when they ask the often heard question: “When will I ever use this?” SAMSEC can help you organize small “show-and-tell” lunches for about a dozen mathematics and science teachers for an overview of how mathematics and science are used in your setting. SAMSEC stands prepared to provide logistical support and simple templates for the agenda.

Sponsorship of Mayoral and County Judge Award
Each recipient receives an award of $1,000, received from donations. If you would like to contribute you will be recognized in promotional materials and in the awards program.