STEMteach Collins

Mike Collins, a student in the first STEMteach cohort at UW-River Falls, teaches a lesson about cryogenics to students attending a session at Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul.

First cohort of STEMteach students at UW-River Falls completes certification

June 9, 2016 -- The first group of University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate students in the STEMteach program completed their coursework this spring for Wisconsin teaching licenses in science and math. Some have already accepted teaching jobs.

"The goal of this program is to enable talented and enthusiastic STEM professionals and recent graduates to become excellent teachers," said Larry Solberg, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies. "We are pleased that this group of students are well on their way to enter Wisconsin classrooms."

STEMteach student Nichelle Wollberg of Colfax has accepted a teaching position in the Lake Holcombe School District in Holcombe. She will be teaching seventh and eighth grade science and high school STEM and agriculture classes.

"Being a part of the first cohort of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls STEMteach program has been an experience I will never forget," Wollberg said. "This past year was filled with learning, laughter, hard work, and new experiences. I am prepared to step into my new classroom this upcoming fall, confidently ready to teach."

Recently hired Chelsey Turner of Spring Valley will be teaching eighth grade science this fall at the Baldwin-Woodville Viking Middle School District. Turner said that the graduate program showed her how to incorporate all aspects of science, technology, engineering, and math into lesson plans.

"In a biology classroom, there will be engineering, there will be math, and there will be technology," she said.

Mike Collins accepted a teaching position with Upward Bound-West students for this summer. Upward Bound is a federal funded program which helps low-income, high school students who are the first in their family to attend college.

"I like the idea of helping these kids get to college," Collins said. "In addition, I wanted a way to keep working with kids through the summer."

Collins will create and teach a class titled "Farm to Table" for the mostly northwestern Wisconsin students who will be attending the Upward Bound program at UW-River Falls this summer.

"The STEMteach program really prepared me for this job," Collins said. "From learning the basics of teaching to actually drafting lesson plans and teaching in schools, I was well prepared for this job."

"The teachers were better than ever imagined and each one of the cohort members has become a lifelong friend," said Stephen Klebs of Hastings, Minn.

Alex Jones of Nerstrand, Minn., said, "A teaching career is totally applicable to everyone's life in that it strengthens relationship skills."

The STEMteach graduate program at UW-River Falls is designed to open the doors to an in-demand career as a middle or high school science or math teacher. Students with a bachelor's degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) are encouraged to explore a career in teaching. The next cohort of students for the one-year program begins June 13.

For more information about the STEMteach program, visit the website at or contact the UWRF Outreach and Continuing Education office by email to or call 800-228-5607.  

UW-River Falls provides lifelong learners with academic, professional development and enrichment programs that are practical, flexible, convenient and affordable. A complete list of courses, course descriptions and online registration information is available at

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