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'It will open your eyes to everything around you:' Mercer, Bibb County Schools announce STEM teacher partnership

Mercer University and Bibb County Schools want to boost STEM education by training more qualified teachers.

MACON, Ga. — Lorenzo Harmon is a student at Mercer University in the Masters of Arts and Sciences program. When he's not taking classes, he's student teaching a biology class at Westside High School. He'll be there in the fall as a full-time teacher. "I plan to be at Westside as your favorite biology teacher."

RELATED: Mercer University, Bibb County Schools launch STEM teacher program

Harmon is one of a handful of students looking to change people's ideas about the STEM field in middle and high school classes across Bibb County. 

"The common misconception is that science is boring, math is hard, 'I have math anxiety,' 'I can't take this test, it's too hard,' whereas if you had a teacher that was training you along the way and encouraging you and basically feeding and pouring life into you, it will open your eyes to everything around you."

This partnership between Mercer University and Bibb County Schools is not new, but it will now be permanent, thanks to the Mercer-Bibb STEM Teaching Fellowship that officially begins in 2020.

The program will recruit five candidates a year for their new STEM Master of Arts in Teaching program. After completing that program, candidates would commit to three years of teaching in Bibb Schools.

In return, the schools would cover tuition for the STEM Masters program.

Brian Butler, the science coordinator for Bibb County Schools, says this will improve the skill set of all students.

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"We are making sure that students have those skills to be competitive, whether they go to college or straight to the workforce here in the middle part of Georgia."

The goal is for there to be more students like Harmon, proving to other students that STEM is a field to consider.