HAYS, Kan. -- More than $1.1 million
that will support and encourage mathematics and science teacher education at
Fort Hays State University was announced at a news conference today on the
The funds come from the Noyce
Foundation through the National Science Foundation. The Southwest Plains
Regional Service Center, Sublette, is a collaborating agency with FHSU on the
"One of the great truths of the
21st century is that for a nation to become or remain 'world ready,' it must
have a work force trained in science, technology, engineering and math
education," said FHSU President Edward H. Hammond.
"To do that," he
continued, "you have to have qualified teachers in those areas, called the
STEM subjects. Fort Hays State has a long tradition of producing outstanding
teachers of math, science and technology."
He explained that the grant will
fund two initiatives, scholarships worth more than $12,000 for students
studying to become STEM teachers, and $2,400 stipends for six-week summer jobs
for students and potential students at math and science camps sponsored by the
university's Science and Mathematics Education Institute (SMEI), which will manage
"This money from the Noyce
Foundation will not only aid us in furtherance of the objective of improving
and expanding science and math education, it is also a recognition of the great
job we already do here at Fort Hays State," he said. "For example,
the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science allows the state's best and
brightest high school juniors and seniors to complete a minimum of 68 college
credits while living and studying on the FHSU campus."
The Noyce Foundation was created by
the family of Dr. Robert N. Noyce, a co-founder of Intel and inventor of the
Hammond introduced Dr. Bill Weber,
assistant professor of mathematics and computer science, who will direct the
Weber said that during the five
years of the grant period, up to six of the scholarships will be awarded each
year to junior or senior education students majoring in a science or
mathematics field. At FHSU that would cover biology, chemistry, physics,
geosciences or mathematics. The scholarship can be used for housing, books, a computer,
tuition or undergraduate research.
"We're going to start by
awarding six of these scholarships for next fall," he said, "but this
is more than just a scholarship program. We will train teacher leaders who can
thrive in a rural school setting and who also have the skills and expertise to
teach at a distance."
Students can renew their
scholarships for one year. Recipients must also commit to teach after
graduation in a "high-needs" school district. The requirement is that
they teach two years for every year they received a scholarship. High-needs
schools are those serving a high percentage of families below the poverty line,
those with a high percentage of students do not speak English as their first
language, or those which serve rural populations.
The program seeks to train teachers
who can be certified as advanced placement, or AP, teachers, which means they
can teach course work that can count for college course credit. High-need school
districts have a real shortage of AP-certified teachers, said Weber.
Another aspect of the program that
makes it more than a simple scholarship program, said Weber, is the support
that will be provided after graduation. One real problem for brand new teachers
in rural and high-need school districts is that the first year is often served
almost in isolation, cut off from any sort of support network. FHSU and
Southwest Plains, as part of the Noyce program, will create a network of
support to help new teachers get through that "induction" year, the
first year out on their own.
"We're going to create a
network of teacher-leaders to help these new teachers adjust and thrive in
high-need districts," he said. "They are not going to be thrown out
there to sink or swim all on their own."
Hammond next introduced Dr. Paul
Adams, the university's Anschutz Professor of Education and professor of
physics, who is also the director of the Science and Mathematics Education
Institute. Adams will direct the Summer Scholars segment of the Noyce grant
"While the scholarships are
great to provide support for students who are already interested in teaching,
we also want to increase the number of students who might consider teaching as
a career," he said. "To address this we have built in a summer
program targeting students who have completed the freshman year and interested
in exploring a career in science teaching."
The Summer Scholars program will
provide each of up to six students per summer for the next four summers with $2,400
for six weeks of work in the summer STEM programs offered through the SMEI. He
said the work will provide an opportunity for students "to experience
teaching STEM to kids and find out for themselves the rewards of being a
Summer programs include the Girls
Math and Science Camp, the Art and Science Camp, the Robotics Camp, and the
Water Park Math Camp. The SMEI also conducts sessions in Camp Invention®,
a product of Invent Now Inc. These are week-long problem-solving and teamwork
skills summer camps for children entering first through sixth grades.
In addition to working with youth in
the SMEI programs, he said, the Noyce Summer scholars will have the opportunity
to interact with expert STEM teachers, attend seminars on the teaching
profession and be involved in teacher professional development workshops.
"A unique aspect of the program
is that applications are open not only to FHSU students interested in teaching,
but also community college students considering coming to FHSU as a teacher or
students interested in transferring to FHSU," said Adams. "Our hopes
are to increase the talent pool of STEM teachers for Kansas, and specifically
those coming to FHSU."
Students must have completed at
least the freshman year to be eligible for the summer program. Students must
already be majors in a STEM field, or open to becoming a STEM major, said
He summed it up this way: "We're
going to pay you money to be a teacher in a math-science setting and see if
that's what you want to do as a career."
Dr. Gavin Buffington, chair of the
Department of Physics at FHSU, serves as the Noyce grant and program
Applications for the scholarships
and information about that and the summer program are available through the
Noyce tab on the Web page at www.fhsu.edu/smei