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Stan State gets grant to boost STEM education
A grant from the National Science Foundation will provide educational opportunities for Stanislaus State math and science majors pursuing a K-12 teaching credential.

Stanislaus State received a $745,997 National Science Foundation award to fund programs and projects to provide educational opportunities for math and science majors pursuing a K-12 teaching credential.

In all, six California State University campuses received a combined $7.1 million in funding from the NSF's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which were announced July 30.

“Noyce SMART (University’s Science Math Access, Research and Teaching) Scholars will join a professional learning community and work alongside experts in the STEM fields to build skills above and beyond what they would learn in a traditional teacher training program,” said Stan State Mathematics Professor Bjorg Johannsdottir, who led the University’s effort to earn the award.

“SMART Scholars will benefit from one-on-one faculty mentoring and receive enhanced teacher professional development and research opportunities that will advance their understanding of effective teaching and learning concepts and prepare them to become strong teacher leaders for many years to come.”

This year, nine Stan State students will receive $10,000 scholarships through the Noyce Award, including undergraduates Abel Lopez, Arlena Lirace, Ashlynn Walker, Mary Vardeh and Paul Hermez (mathematics,) Charlotte Richardson (biology) and Jacqueline Torrecillas (geology) as well as credential candidates Jeremy Isaac Stephens (mathematics) and Lauren Coker (biology).

In addition to underwriting scholarships, the 2017-18 awards fund campus projects and programs that will lead to a more robust and diverse talent pipeline of K-12 science and math teachers — with a focus on recruiting candidates from underrepresented communities. California continues to face a critical shortage of qualified math and science teachers, projecting a need of more than 33,000 additional teachers in the next 10 years.

“The Noyce grants support the CSU’s leadership as the nation’s largest preparer of educators and of future STEM teachers,” said Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, CSU’s assistant vice chancellor of Educator Preparation & Public School Programs. “The funding also strengthens the CSU’s commitment to help address California’s teacher shortage and supports a critical state and national priority to develop a diverse science and technology workforce.”

SMART aims to address the severe shortage of STEM teachers in the region, which has an overwhelmingly large K-12 minority student population but very few teachers from underrepresented populations. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

Over a five-year period, SMART aims to increase the number of STEM credential candidates at Stan State from 119 to 200, with half of these credential candidates coming from underrepresented backgrounds.

The CSU campuses at Chico, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo and San Marcos also received funding from the Noyce Program.