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$1.2 million grant to train math, science teachers for Tampa Bay

A $1.2 million grant awarded to USF by the National Science Foundation will go a long way in helping ensure the success of students who are committed to becoming tomorrow's science and mathematics teachers.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $1.2 million Robert Noyce Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) grant to an interdisciplinary team of faculty from the College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences. The funds will be used to provide stipends to professionals expert in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering who enroll in a one-year accelerated Master’s of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program to earn the credentials needed to teach mathematics or science in secondary schools.

The stipends are for $30,000 each and cover tuition and related expenses.

“The first cohort of the one-year accelerated MAT program will begin in fall 2011,” said Gladis Kersaint, associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Secondary Education and principal investigator for the grant. “We encourage all interested individuals to apply for the MAT 6-12 program in mathematics or science now. Our goal is to fund as many qualified individuals as soon as possible so that we can provide highly effective teachers to schools in the Tampa Bay area.”

Those interested in the scholarships must already hold a bachelor’s degree in a STEM content field. This includes both change-of-career individuals and recent college graduates. The program is designed to specifically support individuals with no prior experience in education.

Working with Kersaint as co-investigators on the grant are Allan Feldman, professor of science education in the College of Education; Jeffrey Ryan, geology professor and department chair in the College of Arts and Sciences; and Mile Krajcevski, instructor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. Members of the team will collaborate on various components of the grant, including recruitment, MAT program enhancement and scholar support.

“Teacher education does not occur only in the College of Education,” Kersaint said. “Faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and others play a pivotal role in the content development of future teachers. Interdisciplinary projects such as this provide an opportunity for faculty from different disciplines to collaborate on approaches to enhance the preparation of future teachers.”

The USF Robert Noyce STEM Scholar program will prepare students to become effective mathematics or science teachers of diverse learners, including English language learners, minority, and students of low socio-economic status in high needs county-wide school districts in the Tampa Bay area. Students will receive support from USF throughout their first two years of teaching, including ongoing professional development through non-coursework activities and experiences designed to develop a professional learning community for long-term peer support.

“There have been many calls to improve STEM education in our schools,” Kersaint said. “One approach for doing this is to staff schools with highly qualified and effective teachers. Unfortunately, mathematics and science continues to be on the teacher shortage list in Florida. With this program, our goal is to support school districts and students in the Tampa Bay area by producing teachers who are able to teach the subject matter in ways that are accessible to students and who are prepared to work in diverse student populations.”

Kersaint is also the principal investigator for Florida PROMiSE (Partnership to Rejuvenate and Optimize Mathematics and Science Instruction), a $22 million interdisciplinary grant that provides content-specific training to teachers of mathematics and science throughout Florida. On July 26, the STEMflorida implementation team will present Florida PROMiSE with the 2010 Instructional Staff Development Award at the 2010 STEM Business & Education Conference.


Filed under:Arts and Sciences School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Mathematics and Statistics Research  
Author: Mary Beth Erskine