Driven by the goal of increasing the number of mathematics teachers nationwide, mathematics education faculty from across the SEC held their second annual in-person summit at the University of Florida College of Education. The group, dubbed the SEC +Mathematics Education Community (+MEC), had been meeting virtually for over two years, and had the opportunity to host their first in-person summit at the University of Kentucky last year. The conference held discussions centered around increasing enrollment of incoming mathematics teachers. Currently, a widespread shortage of math teachers has been prevalent across the nation, particularly in the southeast. Over the last five years, universities have experienced a decline in enrollment for mathematics teacher preparation programs. The shortage of teachers poses a risk of creating an educational gap in students’ success in STEM fields. Throughout the summit, members of the +MEC were committed to addressing the issue. 

“By pooling our experiences, we were not only able to gain a better understanding of the underlying reasons for the declining enrollments in mathematics education, but we were also able to learn about innovative approaches being taken across the SEC and brainstorm other creative ideas,” said Kristen Apraiz, clinical associate professor of mathematics education and host of the conference.

The group created and discussed potential solutions to the issue such as the implementation of new programs that appeal to non-traditional audiences, strengthening introductory courses to increase student interest, and opportunities for grant writing. 

“It is our hope that working together as a group, we will begin to make headway on this issue,” said Lisa Amick, leader of the community from the University of Kentucky. 

The group continued by setting goals for areas of continued exploration and collaboration, including plans to hold an SEC-wide virtual summit for mathematics education program students and alumni. The SEC +MEC will continue to meet throughout the rest of the academic year as well as begin planning for their third annual conference hosted at a different SEC institution in fall 2024.

A headshot of Kristen Apraiz in the Norman Hall courtyard. She is smiling and wearing a floral top with a robin's egg blue jacket.

Kristen Apraiz, Ph.D.

A group of people in SEC school shirts are posing in the Dorfeld Plaza at Norman Hall. They are posing around the gator book bench, and people are on a laptop screen.