$1.1 Million Grant Helps Curb STEM Teacher Shortage


Contributed by News

Teaching program grant provides student stipends and informs nationwide strategies for improving teacher retention.

According to a recent Economic Policy Institute paper, experienced, fully certified teachers are the most critical resource denied to many students, especially in high-needs school districts. Ithaca College’s Michael “Bodhi” Rogers and team recognizes this issue and, with the support of its second Robert Noyce Scholarship Program grant, is looking to counter it.

The more than $1.1 million grant allocated through the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Scholarship Program aims to help increase the number of highly qualified STEM educators. Building on the success of the first grant, this funding will expand recruitment efforts, improve student-centered instruction, foster a culture of continuous professional growth, and study teacher retention and success.  

“The declining number of teachers in the STEM field comes at a cost to the kids in K-12,” said Cristina Gomez, an associate professor in IC’s mathematics and education departments. “So, one of our goals is to develop teachers who have a STEM background and understand ways to teach children in these areas.”

Forty-nine STEM bachelor’s degree holders will be provided stipends to complete a 13-month master’s level program, which includes working in local educational agencies that serve at least one high-needs school. Scholars will complete the requirements for teacher licensing in biology, chemistry, earth science, mathematics, physics or childhood education. They will also have the opportunity to participate in enhanced professional development activities such as teaching conferences, workshops for teaching in high-needs schools and a summer teaching workshop.

“We were very successful in recruiting and graduating teachers and supporting high-needs schools with the first grant,” said Peter Martin, an associate professor in the Department of Education. “However, we didn’t have the means to officially study the effect of the program. This grant will allow us to see what is successful and contribute more to the field.”

The project will include a multi-year research study that will examine the impact of a pre-service culture of continuous learning, growth and professional development; confidence in handling challenges; participation in leadership activities; and teacher retention. The study will look to inform other teacher preparation programs nationwide and provide strategies for improving the retention of new teachers.

“The first grant was very successful. Thirty-four of our first Noyce grant scholars are teachers today,” said Rogers, coordinator of the Science Teaching Program, professor of physics, and principle investigator of the two Noyce grant awards. “These teachers are impacting a new group of students every year, which has a multiplying effect not only on students, but their families and other teachers. This is enormous, rewarding and why teaching is a profession to be proud of.”

Chris Martin ’13, M.A.T. ’14, was a recipient of the first Noyce grant and teaches at Lehman Alternative Community School in Ithaca. Previously, Chris was a manager for a web design company in northeastern Pennsylvania. He was looking for a career change and came to IC to complete his Master of Arts in Teaching.

“I cannot understate how helpful the Noyce program has been in my development as an educator,” he said. “It was designed specifically for people like me. It lured me away from industry and into teaching by offering first-rate professional development. From attending conferences to classroom resources, to access to a network of inspiring and talented teachers, the Noyce program was a significant contributor to my acceptance into the New York State Master Teacher Program this past year.”