Bellarmine will Prepare STEM teachers with $1.45 million NSF Grant
Bellarmine University will recruit and prepare highly qualified science and mathematics teachers for high-need Kentucky middle and high schools with the support of a five-year $1.45 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce program.
The grant will support “Noyce Knights Scholars”— students who wish to teach in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas of physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics.
“If you’ve been paying attention to everything swirling around in the news, there is a major teacher shortage, especially in these critical areas of math and science,” said Kristin Cook, associate dean of Bellarmine’s Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education and associate professor of Science Education.
The $1.45 million grant builds on a $125,000 Noyce Capacity Building Grant that the School of Education received in 2019. With the initial grant, Bellarmine formed new community partnerships, an early entry pathway to the Master of Arts in Teaching program, recruitment pipelines and course-transfer plans that will ensure the success of the Noyce Knights Scholars.
The community partners are JCPS Academies of Louisville, Jefferson Community and Technical College (JCTC) and the Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS), which will help to recruit students for the program; the Kentucky Science Center, which works with Bellarmine on an annual STEM Maker Fair and hosts Noyce Scholars internships; the University of Kentucky, which has an established Noyce program and will assist with providing professional learning experiences for Bellarmine’s Scholars; and the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), which will provide field experiences and be a potential source of full-time jobs for graduates.
The five-year grant will support at least 25 students who can become Noyce Knights Scholars through one of three pathways:
Students must earn the undergraduate bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and Mathematics, which also fulfills the requirements for the bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. Noyce Knights Scholars funding of $19,200 maximum is provided for the junior and senior years for a maximum total amount of $38,400.
Early Entry MAT Program: Undergraduates majoring in Physics, Chemistry, Math, Biology or Biochemistry/Microbiology may enter the Master of Teaching program in their senior year and complete the MAT by the end of their fifth year. Noyce Knights Scholars funding of $29,000 is provided for the fifth year and covers graduate tuition and fees ($16,560), off-campus living expenses ($10,000) and miscellaneous expenses ($2,440).
Traditional MAT Program: Students with undergraduate degrees in Physics, Chemistry, Math, Biology or Biochemistry/Microbiology who enroll in the traditional two-year Master of Teaching program receive funding of $29,000 in the second year, which covers full MAT graduate tuition and fees ($24,840) for the two years plus $4,200 for miscellaneous expenses.
The benefits of the Noyce Knights Scholars Program extend far beyond the classroom, Cook said.
Scholars will enjoy signature experiences such as the STEM Maker Fair, a festival of creativity and innovation; all-expenses-paid trips to network and present at national Noyce network conferences; and opportunities for paid internships at the Kentucky Science Center. A STEM Teacher Education Learning Community will also be established at Bellarmine.
“The students who get selected for funding will become part of a national network of Noyce Scholars,” Cook said. “They will be presenting alongside our team, and they will be hopefully publishing with us. They will also have those professional learning opportunities with the University of Kentucky that sustain them in their early years of teaching, and we will work with JCPS to ensure they’re in selective placements where they’ve got strong mentorship.”
Akhtar Mahmood, professor of Physics, was the principal investigator for the $1.45 million grant; co-investigators are Kristin Cook; Jessica Ivy; associate professor of Mathematics Education and chair of Initial Certification Programs; and Marlisa Austin, interim assistant vice president of Academic Affairs at JCTC.
“Bellarmine University is committed to using our faculty’s expertise to offer programs that meet professional and community needs,” said President Susan M. Donovan. “The Noyce Knights Scholars Program will help us to prepare excellent STEM teachers for our community schools with the highest need. Those teachers, in turn, will prepare math and science leaders for our community’s future. I commend our team for their diligent work in securing this NSF grant.”