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Big grant boosts JMU program to produce STEM teachers


by Eric Gorton

 

A $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation will boost James Madison University's efforts to produce highly qualified teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The funding, announced by U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, comes through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program and will provide up to 32 scholarships over five years. The Noyce Scholars will agree to teach math or science in a high-need school district upon licensure.

"This project is the natural progression of JMU’s efforts to provide the Commonwealth with a strong supply of well-qualified STEM teachers," said Eric Pyle, a professor of geology and environmental science, and coordinator of science teacher preparation at JMU. "Through the project activities, the joint effort will ensure that the graduates of our preparation program have developed identities as both STEM professionals and as STEM teachers."

JMU's science teacher preparation project is a collaboration between the College of Education and the College of Science and Mathematics. In addition to Pyle, the interdisciplinary team that wrote and will implement the proposal consists of Kerry Cresawn, director of the Center for STEM Education and Outreach; Robbie Higdon, associate professor of middle, secondary and mathematics education; Barbara Reisner, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and Anthony Tongen, associate dean, College of Science and Mathematics.

Cynthia Bauerle, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics; and Phil Wishon, dean of the College of Education, stated in a letter supporting the grant application, "This initiative unifies the strengths and experiences of the CSM/CoE collaborative partnership around a vision that addresses one of the Commonwealth’s and nation’s most important education challenges: preparing and retaining more highly qualified and dedicated STEM teachers."

The grant will build upon a previous NSF grant that increased the number of students seeking secondary science teacher licensure at JMU. Outreach and early teaching experiences of the previous grant will now expand from science education to STEM education. Participants will continue to benefit the local community in alignment with JMU’s goal to be the national model of an engaged university.

Recruiting efforts across all STEM fields at JMU will also expand, further including transfer students from community colleges, increasing support for pre-service teacher identity development and building induction support structures to help JMU teacher education graduates become outstanding, persistent STEM educators.

 

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018

Last Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2018

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