The National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program has awarded St. Edward’s University a more than $1.18 million grant for scholarships aimed at recruiting, preparing and supporting middle and high school math and science teachers.
“Ultimately, the grant is aimed at providing quality STEM teachers for Texas schools,” said Steven Fletcher, the grant’s principal investigator. “We are grateful to the National Science Foundation for their commitment to STEM education and the preparation of students across Texas and the nation.”
The five-year grant will provide two years of funding for 18 St. Edward’s undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) majors who add a teacher education minor to become certified in either grades 4–8 or 7–12 math or science teaching and includes additional incentives throughout the recruitment, preparation and early careers of those selected.
Partners involved include the St. Edward’s School of Natural Sciences, Breakthrough Central Texas, Del Valle ISD, The University of Texas at Austin and Co.Lab Community Makers.
To recruit participants, the grant provides 12 interested students a year with an initial summer stipend to try out the profession through a 6-week teaching internship. Breakthrough Central Texas, a nonprofit that creates a pathway to and through college for students who will become the first in their families to earn a college degree, will partner for this effort.
After the summer teaching internship, those who remain committed to teaching in high need schools are invited to apply for one of the scholarship slots and, if selected, take coursework in education along with their major. Noyce scholars will have the opportunity to travel to STEM education conferences, receive professional coaching from a STEM teacher expert, attend monthly professional development training and receive $40,000 to cover tuition costs over a two-year period.
One element of the grant also includes a focus on “maker education” and “making”. “Making” is an iterative process of design and fabrication that relies on developing digital literacy and skills with various equipment and tools, from using a power tool to programming a project for a 3D printer. Science and math teachers who integrate making into their regular lessons develop important skills in their students, including a growth mindset and increased enthusiasm for finding solutions to difficult problems.
The project includes a commitment to supporting early-career teachers who graduate from the program in their first three years with a community of other new STEM teachers with an interest in making. Planned in collaboration with the UTeach Maker program at UT Austin, project leaders will develop and lead monthly professional development workshops for both UT Austin and St. Edward’s graduates to develop community, share teaching strategies and provide mentorship from experienced educators.
The St. Edward’s University teacher preparation program offers teaching certification in grades 4–8 and 7–12 Mathematics; 7–12 Biology; 7–12 Chemistry; and 7–12 Physics/Mathematics.